In recent years, beer trends have changed beyond all recognition. Where big brewery conglomerates (such as Anheuser–Busch InBev (Budweiser, Stella, Corona) and Carlsberg) once dominated the market, now smaller ‘craft’ breweries are taking on their market-share and tantalising consumers with big flavours, bolder styles and exciting branding.
Initially the larger breweries disregarded the trend, perhaps thinking it would be short-lived; a fad that would run its course with little harm to their profits. But as more and more craft breweries were founded, the bigger breweries had no option but to take action.
One way for big breweries to take a slice of the profits involved buying up successful breweries, both domestically and internationally. Molson Coors bought the successful, but relatively small, Sharps Brewery in Cornwall for £20 million, in another example Anheuser–Busch bought up Goose Island Brewery, known for its world-famous and well-respected Goose Island IPA.
The worrying part of all this is that bigger breweries are, on the whole, taking over these companies with relative secrecy. So whilst your average drinker may enjoy his pint of craft beer, he may be totally unaware it is owned by a global conglomerate and is in many ways being deceived.
Another way big breweries are getting a slice of the action is by setting up their own smaller craft breweries and effectively re-branding their old range, hoping a new exciting label or name will help sell an old beer. This is happening with increasing regularity and often the consumer is paying a premium for a not-so premium product.
So far, the majority of the big breweries have resisted re-branding their own globally recognised beers to any major extent. There have been subtle attempts to shift old logos and brands into the 21st century, including gimmicks with can & bottle shapes and in-can technology, but what if these brands decided to entirely re-brand and embrace the craft beer paradigm?
To give you a little idea of what we mean, we’ve had a go at re-branding some of the big guns ourselves:
*Please note that we have no affiliation with Fosters, Carlsberg or Budweiser. This was a for fun project and is in no way endorsed by any of the brands mentioned.
Simplified from their complex, macho branding. The colours are flat, the script font gone and in its place a straightforward, no nonsense approach. The Anheuser–Busch logo, once almost impossible to see is replaced with a simpler approach ‘AB Brewing Co’ complete with stylised crown.
This is still the beer of the labouring man, he’s just a bit more sophisticated.
The famous logo is gone, in its place is a smaller, less dominating one. Where in the original you would order “a pint of Carlsberg, please”, now you can order a bottle of ‘Punchy Pilsner’. You can still order Special Brew, though now adorned with Churchill’s face (his favourite tipple) but with a touch of anarchy.
The fonts are big, loud and in-your-face to match the style and flavours of the craft beer revolution.
Fosters, like the other two above examples, are probably quite happy with their demographic of lager swilling lads. The current branding is brash and all primary colours, so any craft rebrand would have to go right back to basics and strip the look right down. Using the handcrafted look brings a touch of bespoke to the beer, whilst still in keeping with Foster’s relaxed style, it also adds a certain laid back elegance so far unseen in this brand.
Forget the classic, shiny, bevelled metallic look of yester-beer. If a large global lager brand wanted to re-imagine itself as a craft beer, there are several pointers they could take.
Cans and bottles in 330ml (355ml/12 fl oz. in USA) are in, big cans and bottles are out.
Choose something bold, loud and big. Don’t be afraid to cover your entire label in text, just keep it interesting and varied. Angle your text up, across, diagonally if you like – you are making a statement, not a whimper!
There are a few approaches available here. The first being a flat colour, with pastel or muted tones. Ditch the gradient, the highlights, the metallic borders, avoid drop shadows or bevels. Make use of old letterpress styles and a handmade approach. in great contrast, the second approach is loud, full of neons, blasts of colour and distressed overlays. Bring a touch of anti-establishment to your branding. Interestingly both these techniques have served Brewdog well in their branding.
Labels should reflect the ‘craft’ concept, making use of textured papers, swing tags, rough twine, embossed text and spot varnishes. Move away from glossy labels and metallic foil finishes, lo-fi is where it’s at.
Where ‘Joe Blogg’s Sparkling Pale Ale’ may have been a perfectly adequate name for a beer in the Victorian age, consumers now want interesting names with stories and intrigue attached to them. Swear words and controversy are optional but regularly occurring in the world of craft beer.
Logos and Brewery Names:
Slight adjustments to your brewery name to include the words ‘Artisan’, ‘Brewing Co’ or even ‘Craft Brewery’ can help your operation seem more humble. Logos can be resurrected from a bygone age (if your brewery is old enough) or simplified/flattened to add further nostalgia to your brand.
*Please note that we have no affiliation with Fosters, Carlsberg or Budweiser. This was a for fun project by Restaurant Choice and is in no way endorsed by any of the brands mentioned.