By Scott Pillsbury
Begin and End Right With Your Beer Labels
Bottling your beer is a huge step for most craft breweries. It provides a much wider audience for your beer and helps to build brand awareness that supports the draft and keg business. You can also easily expand your geographic footprint with distribution in bottles, but it has to be done correctly.
Begin With the Brand
Based on the thousands of label designs we have seen, people are always asking for our input about label designs. My answer is always the same: It has to match your authentic brand. Your entire business needs to have a cohesive and unified brand image -- really the DNA or the “soul” of the business. Every business has one, and it is up to the leader to closely guard, protect, and cultivate that brand. Once this brand is clearly defined, the website, the on-premise decor, the signage and the labels should all flow directly from this core. That is what makes a great label design — a consistent look and feel that replicates the feeling of being in your pub in person. Some are upscale and polished. Some are hand-crafted and rustic. Neither of these is right or wrong, it just has to be consistent to reinforce your brand image.
End With the Retail Cooler
As important as the design is, the execution of that design is just as important. Make sure your label vendor is familiar with your labeling equipment (if you own your own line) or has worked directly with your mobile bottler. And make sure they are very familiar with all the requirements for cold storage, proper adhesive, scuff protection and condensation. The job isn't really finished until the label is applied to the bottle, delivered to the store, and taken home to drink by your consumer. Design is critical to a successful label project, but there are many other practical and technical requirements that really don't add to the finished label. However, they can certainly detract from it if they aren't done correctly.
Ask for references and talk to other brewers. Most are willing to share their success stories and point you in the right direction. Bottling your beer is an exciting step. Make sure you begin and end the process correctly, and you will be on your way to building your brand and growing your successful brewery.
Scott Pillsbury is President of Rose City Label in Portland. They print for 45 breweries and are the only Project L.I.F.E. eco-certified label printer in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at www.rclabel.com.