OUGD601 — Primary Research Results

After a couple of trips to Leeds' craft beer providers asking customers to fill out the survey I decided I had enough data to complete the data analysis.

Number of random consumers involved/surveys completed — 15

Drinks involved — Schnieder Weisse - Blonde, Sierra Nevada - Bigfoot, Kirkstall - Pale, Top Out - Schmankerl, Outlaw Brewery - Full House IPA, Raster - Rouge, Brooklyn - Lager, Magic Rock - Cannonball, Gouden - Carolus, Hoegaarden - Special, Stringer - West Coast Blend, Prototype - Kirkstall Brewery.

Drinks where the visuals played a part in decision making — 9 / 15

Drinks the consumer would have again — 14 / 15

Breweries the consumer would try more from — 14 / 15

Drinks that the consumer would have again where the visuals played a part in the decision making — 9 / 9

Breweries the consumer would try more from where the visuals played a part in the decision making — 9 / 9

Number of consumers that got 100% in brand recognition test — 3 / 15

Number of consumers that got 75% in brand recognition test — 1 / 15

Number of consumers that got 50% in brand recognition test — 5 / 15

Number of consumers that got 25% in brand recognition test — 1 / 15

Number of consumers that got 0% in brand recognition test — 5 / 15

Number of consumers that got 100% in brand recognition test where visuals played a part in the decision making — 2 / 9

Number of consumers that got 75% in brand recognition test where visuals played a part in the decision making — 1 / 9

Number of consumers that got 50% in brand recognition test where visuals played a part in the decision making — 4 / 9

Number of consumers that got 25% in brand recognition test where visuals played a part in the decision making — 1 / 9

Number of consumers that got 0% in brand recognition test where visuals played a part in the decision making — 1 / 9

OUGD601 — Practical Planning

Now I have a brewery which I can use as my design scenario along with all of the information I got from talking to them on my visit I can begin planning the elements of my practical body of work.


Logo, typography, colours, packaging, website, business cards, extras.

Phase 1 —

Idea development
Typography choices
Identity sketch development

Phase 2 —

Logo development
Packaging development (consider stock possibilities as well as printing costs).
Website development

Phase 3 —

Packaging production
Website mockups
Extras (time relative)

OUGD601 — Mallinsons Brewery Visit

I went down to Huddersfield to visit Mallinsons Brewery as they said on the phone that they'd be more than happy to be a part of my practical brand.

After a tour of the brewery which I was allowed to take a few photos in, me and two of the three brewers sat down and discussed my research project and what I was aiming to do with them.

They were really enthusiastic about it even though they were already content with their visual branding, this enthusiasm only grew more once I showed them work I have recently completed and they were impressed with the standard I worked to.

I explained that the practical element of my research project was strictly for academic purposes but if they liked the outcome enough, we could discuss making it a reality (something I'd be more than keen on the idea of).

Something that they did keep highlighting was the fact they weren't happy with their website and that it needed updating considerably. If I make this an element of my branding project then it might be more appealing to them to adopt the full concept.

The first obvious part of marketing a beer is to make sure it's a good beer, that makes selling it and defining it's visuals a lot easier. Now I already have my own opinions and I think Mallinsons create some amazing bottle conditioned beers and it fascinates me further that every single part of their process happens in-house: Brewing, bottling, printing, labelling, sales, etc. This can have it's limitations however as they currently use Powerpoint software for all of their labels and pay extra money for the printer to set up the files for their pump clips.

Anything designed would have to remain editable to allow them to put their expiry date and batch number on each brew.

OUGD601 — Primary Research Planning

To develop a foundation of understanding of what things catch people's eyes when they are choosing a beer at a bar I will give out mini power surveys in craft beer bars in Leeds, Friends of Ham, Bundobust & North Bar.

These won't be as big as the ones I made for the beer festivals in Summer but will give a much more concise set of answers that will show the most effective forms of catching a consumer's eye from behind a bar-fridge or on a pump clip.

These questions have been designed to prompt quick thinking and clear responses in a social environment, this will stop me from bothering people too much when they are out to enjoy themselves.

1 — What drink have you got in your hand?

2 — In reference to visuals/packaging, what caught your eye about this drink?

3 — Would you buy this drink again?

4 — Would you try more from the brewery that made it?

These questions will show the entire drink experience and what bounces from it. The consumer would first name the beer so it can then be identified. The consumer is then asked what triggered them to choose it visually, could be bright colours, interesting illustration, bold typography, etc. The two final questions relate directly to the bounce effect of the consumer experiencing it visually and then drinking it. Some may really like the beer they just drank and would want to try it again as well as other drinks the brewery make. Some might not like that particular drink but would still try another from that brewery because they appreciated something about it before the taste was concerned such as the branding or visuals.

The results from this survey would deliver a series of data which could help show a link between the drink's branding & experience.

I designed an A5 printout which can be given to consumers after they have bought their drink. This explains why I am doing it as well as a clear format to answer within. The use of Yes/No boxes stops people writing anything irrelevant in those boxes to make my life easier too.

I showed Simon this survey plan in my tutorial and the feedback I received was very helpful. He recommended to change my wording in my second question as it wasn't asking what I wanted to find out and also recommended doing a second page to see if people could recognise craft brewery's with blurred out or cropped parts of their logos or packaging. This would further define the recognition that people have of brewery's branding and back up the argument of craft beer branding reflecting the growth in popularity.

I chose two UK based breweries and two US based. I didn't want to choose any that were too small or no one would know who they were, so I chose moderately known companies and removed the colour and cropped into them so they were not obvious.

I thought this was a great idea because it hit two birds with one stone and would stop me from needing to return and pester the bar's clients at the same time as doubling my data.

I sent the final version of the survey to Simon before sending them off to the bars and requesting permission to conduct them in their establishments.

Once I had finished emailing Friends of Ham, Bundobust & North Bar, I did some test prints on cheap off grey sugar paper to give it a raw and artisan feel relating directly with the subject. I believe more people will engage with the survey if it looks and feels nice.

I then tested it on Jasper to make sure I was collecting the right information which I was happy to find I was.

If Jasper was in a bar and had just bought an Odell IPA, I would of gathered the following data.

Odell IPA

Caught consumer's eye because he didn't like the design.

Would buy it again.

Would try more from that brewery.

Recognised 2/4 of brands.

This would be an interesting set of data because the label design stood out to the consumer because he didn't like it, however he still enjoyed the product and would try the brewery's other products.

OUGD601 — Lecture

Introduction should underline the objective of the study and maybe explain the methodology involved.

Academic conventions are like an institutional framework for your work. These can be challenged and manipulated to present ideas and research.

At this level you are expected to:

Demonstrate a critical knowledge of practice.
Apply theory to practice.
Analyse relevant material.
Evaluate theory and evidence within the context of study.
Reflect — critiquing and critically reflecting on your learning and using this to improve practice.

Building through the bloom's triangle effectively presents the guiding process in COP3. This must be shown within the writing and practice. *Synthesis*

Avoid a surface approach to the module such as:

Concentration on learning outcomes.
Passive acceptance of ideas.
Routine memorisation of facts.
Sees small chunks.
Ignore guiding patterns and principles.
Lack of reflection about, or ignorance of, underlying patterns and theories.
Little attempt to understand.
Minimal preparation and research.

Challenge sources and ideas, develop an obvious understanding and show this.

Deep approach:

Independent engagement with material.
Critical and thoughtful about idea and information.
Relates ideas to own previous experience and knowledge.
Sees the big picture.
Relates evidence to conclusions.
Examines logic and arguments.
Interested in wider reading and thinking.
Ongoing preparation and reflection.

How is the deep approach shown?

Academic writing is formal and follows some standard conventions.
Each academic discipline has its own specialist vocabulary which you will be expected to learn and use in your own writing.
The substance of academic writing must be based on slid evidence and logical analysis, and presented as a concise, accurate argument.
Academic writing can allow you to present your argument and analysis accurately and concisely.

Never use the first person. Be direct and make statements with reasons to back it up.

I have considered — Consideration has been given to.

Aim for precision  Don't use unnecessary words or waffle. Get straight to the point. Make every word count.

Avoid any abbreviations and contractions.
Avoid slang words and phrases.
Avoid conversational terms.
Avoid vague terms.

Dissertations Structure:

Preliminaries — Title / Acknowledgements / Contents / List of Illustrations.

Introduction — The abstract / Statement of the problem / Methodological approach.

Main body — Review of the literature / Logically developed argument / Chapters / Results of Investigation / Case Study.

Conclusion — Discussion and conclusion / Summary of conclusions

Extras — Bibliography / Appendices.

Do not prioritise the written element or the practical, both must be synthesised.

Harvard Referencing.

Author (date) Title Place Publisher

Miles, R. (2013) Why Referencing?, Leeds, LCA Publishing

"I have no idea how to reference" (Miles, 2013, p.7)

OUGD601 — Practical Planning

The first brewery I got in contact with was Sunbeam Ales, when I first e-mailed Nigel he seemed quite interested in what I had to offer and we arranged to meet for a beer. Once I arrived and explained what I was doing and what I'd hope to do in the project he went on to tell me how he has a background in textile design and knows what is good. After that, the conversation veered to him telling me that he really likes his branding and he thinks it's the best out there.

A very confusing evening ended abruptly when I realised it wasn't going anywhere and he only wanted me to redesign his website.

My next contact was Mallinsons Brewing Company, an independent brewery in Huddersfield. After a few days of hearing no reply, I decided to give them a ring in hope to speak to someone. I was happy to hear that I wasn't being ignored but as an independent brewery they are massively busy and simply forgot to email back.

After a quick chat explaining what I was doing, the lady I spoke to Elaine said she was more than happy to work with me as long as they didn't have to spend much time doing anything because of their intense brewing hours. We agreed to meet at the brewery on Monday morning to discuss the project and what I could do with them.

Mallinsons would be a much better brewery to work with as their production is a lot higher along with their packaging and marketing budgets. This would give more flexibility in design but also a wider scope of work to complete.

OUGD601 — Tutorial 2

In the second tutorial with Simon, we discussed what I'd been doing since the last one and my plans for the next two weeks before the next tutorial.

I told Simon about my struggles of finding factual numbers and figures but he reassured me what I had was plenty and that I had to start concentrating on the branding research as that was my focus. It appears I spent a bit too long trying to find proof that the craft beer market has grown.

We agreed on a selection of different primary research methods such as talking to the owner of Bundobust and speaking to people in the craft beer bars of Leeds.

For my practical element I need to find a brewery or individual in need of branding themselves or a specific product.

OUGD601 — Sales & Distribution Research

For my critical writing, I had to prove that the craft beer industry has shot up in popularity with accurate facts and figures.

I found a website named SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers). After scowling the site I realised they had no official numbers or statements on the amount of members year on year so I decided to e-mail them in hope for the information to be sent to me.

I was happy to receive a reply on Monday morning with a couple of links to the information I was after.

I also called up Companies House to see if they had information I could use. The man I spoke to said that the information I am looking for might not come down as narrow as "independent breweries" but I should be able to find something there.

He directed me to the SIC code list where I could look for the subject field I needed and then how to order data files for £30, the only problem was there is a notice saying they aren't compatible with Apple Mac computers.

I sent over an email asking if this data would help me with what I was looking for as well as how I would access it considering my computer operating system.

On European Beer Guide I found a table splitting off the brewery figures between 1985 - 1999 but nothing closer than that.

I spent a while going over the CAMRA website and found a small table hidden in the FAQ section with some info on amount of breweries over a series of years. This was so close to what I was after, having it go back to 2000 would of been perfect because I would of then had the data from 1985 to now.

I found this pdf on SIDA that goes into depth of the rise in sales of cask ales which are related directly to craft beers. This will help define the rise in popularity of this choice in drink.

OUGD601 — Focusing my Research + Question

— Write down all questions that I want to investigate.
— Consider each on their merits and focus on two (primary & secondary)

— Write an A4 ‘first thoughts’ sheet for each of those questions.

— What is the purpose of the study? Is the question researchable?

This study is to research, critically analyse and understand the extent that the branding design involved in craft beer culture has reflected the rise in popularity in the UK.

This will develop my understanding of the values attached to different design & packaging approaches in the craft beer industry and give me an insight to the development of an independent brand through the formats delivered in design.

— Create a critical plan on where to fit things in and when.


Sales & Distribution — Statistics of the amount of craft beer bars in the UK, how many breweries have opened recently, sales and distribution figures, import records, supermarket stock.

Case Studies — Brewdog, Stone Brewing Co, Northern Monk.

Interviews/discussions — Designers in the craft beer industry, breweries, shop owners, members of the public.

Critical Writing — 6000-9000 word essay.

Practical — Branding & Identity + Extensions of packaging, marketing, print and web design for a craft beer brewery (fiction or non-fiction?)

— Plan out sections of the essay and practical body of work into chunks.

Critical Writing Chapters and word estimates:

1 — Craft Beer:  A Modern Definition.

1000 words.

2 — The Rise in Popularity.

1500 words.

3 — The Visual Culture.

2000 words.

4 — Case Study.

1500 words.

5 — Conclusion.

1000 words.

OUGD601 — Tutorial 1

In the tutorial, Simon and I discussed the two questions I had looked over and decided the most interesting one was "To what extent has the branding & packaging of craft beer supported it's growth & popularity in the UK?" however we decided to reduce it down to branding as that spans over everything else including packaging. The question then became:

"To what extent has the branding reflected the rise in popularity of craft beer in the UK?"

This question was focused, clear and easily broken down and answered.

We discussed how to investigate this question in the boundaries of secs nary and primary research.

Secondary — Statistics of the amount of craft beer bars in the UK, how many breweries have opened recently, sales and distribution figures, import records and supermarket stock too.

Primary — Speak with designers who work with craft breweries, breweries, shops and members of the public.

Case studies — Brewdog? Stone Brewing Co?

Practical — Brand a brewery. Who?

OUGD601 — Presentation: Introduction

OUGD601 — Case Study: Brewdog

Brewdog's story is probably one of the most interesting I've heard in respect to their marketing strategies and the development of their brand & business. 

Starting in 2008, Brewdog was founded by two mates who simply didn't like the beer out there and so begun making their own. This tends to be the first chapter for most successful businesses purely because chances are, there are other people out there who think and feel the same way.

After the initial struggle of brewing small batches and bottling by hand to then sell at markets and out of their van they quickly employed more people, bought more brewing equipment and started having fun with it. They started to get people's attention by pushing boundaries people were usually uncomfortable with, some might of thought this would collapse a business but all it did was spark a media storm. By the 2nd year of business, they were the biggest independent brewer in Scotland.

The Anti-Business Model.

This is the interesting part of their marketing strategy. Becoming known as a company to push boundaries and be about well made + different beer rather than conforming to the norm, they even pushed the boundary of their image and began 'Equity For Punks'. 

'Equity For Punks' was their way of allowing people to buy shares in their business online.

14,568 people so far have taken them up on the offer to be a part of their 'anti-corporate-beer' movement which has blown the business up massively. Purely by adding such a value to their shares, people all over the world have invested in making the business bigger in return for a lifetime discount at their bars and their online shop.

This idea is intelligent in so many different ways and works as a great example of fusing consumerism, beer and people's hate for one thing with people's love for another. Not only are they creating an impact, spreading the word about great beer, pushing a movement and educating people that there is more out there than the same old pint, but they are growing their business and giving it a strong brand people know and remember.

When looking at a brewery like Brewdog, you start to question what people are buying.

The beer itself?

No one that likes beer can deny that Brewdog produce incredible drinks. The quality is good, the variation is good, the flavours are different but still enjoyable. At the end of the day, they are good at what they do and it is easier to market a product that is actually good than one that isn't.

The brand?

Brewdog's packaging stands out, it looks quirky, alternative and appeals to an audience that don't like to conform to society. That could be a huge buying point to a lot of people when deciding on their poison of the evening, some people want others to see what they are wearing, how their hair is and what they are eating/drinking and make a judgement on them — "That guy seems interesting, he's not drinking Carling, he's drinking something with stencilled type and contrasting colours.

The support of reducing bigger companies?

People have heard of brew dog, that is a slight understatement in the world of UK beer too. If you were a person against corporate hierarchy, consumerism, and money fuelled companies ruining quality of products and the environment, you would undoubtedly rather have a Punk IPA than a pint of Stella. But then the question comes to light, is brewdog's image a marketing strategy to make themselves bucket-loads of money (which is working and working well) and turning them into the exact thing they are seen to stand against - or is it all honest?

OUGD601 — Screen Printing Labels

"If you caught our earlier feature on craft beer labels, you’d know that the main label decision for a craft brewer is choosing between pressure sensitive or cut & stack and then working through a million options from there. Not satisfied with such a simple either-or decision to start things off? Then it might be time to look at screen printing as an alternative option. We spoke with Robert Howerth, owner of Bottleprint, about craft brewers entering the brave new world of screen printing.

Essentially, the people at Bottleprint print the labels directly onto the bottle. The brewer sends the digital artwork for their label to Bottleprint, which burns screens for their labels. The brewer either ships their bottles or they use the bottles provided by the printer. Bottleprint then prints the bottles and ships them back.

You’ll notice this process foregoes the use of any paper material. An eco-conscious brewer might find the paperless story appealing, brand-wise, but the full picture is more complicated than that. Historically, the curing technology for the screen printing required more power to cure the inks when compared to the paper label, making an eco-advantage negligible. But Howerth noted the advent of UV curable inks for glass has changed that. A UV-cured, screen-printed label requires roughly the same amount of power to cure versus a paper label, according to Howerth. Printers in Europe have been using UV inks on glass for a decade, and it’s starting to be used by printers in the U.S. Bottleprint also uses organic inks that can print a vibrant, lead-free color in finer detail than ceramic ink. The company also requires much lower heat to cure its inks, so its carbon footprint is smaller.

“Some printers have been successful with it, while others have not,” Howerth admitted. “We’ve had great success with our testing and plan to start a UV print line in the near future.”

Bottleprint is new to the craft brewing game as the screen-printing option is normally preferred by a different clientele, but Howerth is excited for the possibilities of this growing segment as more and more brewers look for new ways to position their brands. Craft brewers looking to a screen-printed label are trying to ride the wave of the “martini culture,” and hit on the emotions stirred by brands in the spirit category like Absolut, Grey Goose, etc. Two craft examples being New Belgium Brewing’s Lip of Faith series and all of Stone Brewing Co.’s bottles.

“Our experience has been that this greater awareness is ultimately increasing market share of screen-printed labels. It may not be more than a few basis points, but it is increasing,” Howerth said. “It depends on how much the customer wants to spend on their packaging. Our set up costs are the same whether we print 1,000 bottles or 1 million bottles, so the price per unit drops dramatically as volume increases,” Howerth said. “In order for a smaller brewer to get noticed, they may choose to go with a screen-printed label to stand out from the sea of paper labels at your typical retailer. As they get noticed, their sales increase which will ultimately mean lower prices for their labels. A properly designed screen-printed label adds value to any brand, which will increase sales for any brewery.”

Depending on volume, a screen-printed label will usually cost 5 cents to 20 cents per label more than a paper label, according to Howerth. For those extra cents per label, the brewer will receive a more durable label with a completely different look compared to the norm. And it’s not just the look or cost structure that differs the screen print from the paper label.

“Turnaround will require more planning, due to somewhat slower printing speeds compared to paper labels,” Howerth said. The turnaround point is important as it holds the most potential for a misstep in the process. If a brewer chooses screen-printing and is late with artwork, the whole process will take that much longer."


OUGD601 — Beer Sales Trend Down - Taste or Marketing?

"Craft beer, as has been noted, is in a boom time that shows no signs of slowing. The beer industry as whole, however, is settling near panic mode. Each quarter shows another dip down in the overall beer drinking population. How can a tiny segment of the beer world be thriving while the overall market, most notably the Big Beer brands, sees its biggest downward trend?

The answer could be a flight to alcohol quality over quantity for the average consumer as the rise in the sale of liquors and spirits coincides with the rise in craft beer. According to the latest data from GuestMetrics, while spirits and wine both saw volume trends improve slightly through mid-August, beer trends deteriorated.

“Beer volumes were -4.3 percent during 1Q13, and then showed a relative improvement to -2.1 percent during 2Q13,” said Bill Pecoriello, chief executive officer of GuestMetrics LLC. “For the four weeks ending July 14, beer volumes softened to -3.8 percent, and during the four-week period ending Aug. 11, deteriorated even further to -5.3 percent, which is concerning, particularly in light of the slight improvement in underlying volume trends that spirits and wine both saw during the same period.”

More to the point, the GuestMetrics data shows that “premium light” volumes have been deteriorating the most, going from -8.9 percent through mid-June to -11.3 percent in mid-July, and now -12.6 percent in mid-August, which is its greatest volume contraction of the eight four-week periods thus far in 2013.

Could the answer also be marketing? Has the once powerful advertising power of Big Beer weakened, or at least lost its message on a new audience? Trade publication Advertising Age posted a great feature that delved into the issue:

When speaking with Paul Chibe, VP-U.S. marketing at A-B InBev, it’s best to tiptoe around the subject of the farting horse. Part of a suite of ads for Bud Light that ran several years ago under a previous marketing regime, it’s become an internal symbol at the brewer of what not to do in advertising. “It’s not going to build the category,” he said. The horse spot epitomized the brewer’s once-sophomoric ad humor, though the period also produced memorable ads such as the Budweiser frogs.

Former A-B Chief Creative Officer Bob Lachky — who was behind A-B classic “Wassup?!” — blames his ex-employer for overtesting. “It’s almost impossible to get a breakthrough idea through a system that may be overanalyzing in the pre-test stage,” he said. “Once in a while, you do have to take a chance.”

Mr. Chibe counters that the new regime is taking plenty of risks; it’s just using data to make smarter choices. “Everything that I am running on air is an ad that has been tested and qualified to drive purchase intent and persuasion,” he said. Mr. Chibe has put a premium on music-themed marketing, signing up artists like Jay Z and Justin Timberlake, as the brewer seeks to appeal to millennials with more aspirational ads and fewer frat-boy pranks.

Big brands are also resorting to packaging as a major marketing tool. Coors Light is pushing a “double-vented wide-mouth can” that the brewer says produces a smoother pour. Miller Lite, which launched in 1975 as the first successful mainstream light beer, will be repackaged in its original can design from Jan. 1 to March 15, harkening back to its glory days as the beer that “tastes great” and is “less filling.”


OUGD601 — Craft Beer Label Design Trends

"Do you need a paper or poly label? Estate look or high gloss? Laminated label or varnish or raised varnish?

All of the available label design options could drive a brewer to cracking one open instead of settling on the right mix of paper, coating, colors, etc.

We asked our label sources to talk about what trends they are seeing and what options they recommend.

Green Flash West Coast IPA by Oaks Printing. 
Green Flash West Coast IPA by Oaks Printing.

“We offer brewers a variety of cut and stack label substrates — 60# C1S, wet-strength, metallized and specialty papers to differentiate their look in the industry,” said Gwen Chapdelaine, marketing director with Fort Dearborn Company. “Other brewers will use a matte, gloss or a combination of both coatings to achieve a specialty look and feel.

“At the outset, our question is ‘what is the essence of your brand?’ What are you trying to convey from the promise of your brand? Is it more of a sepia look and feel? High, vibrant color? If they have a label already designed, we make recommendations on substrates — material that goes on to label that enhances the brand,” said Mike Lane, chief executive officer with Lofton Label. Lofton usually advises craft breweries to stay away from foils, stamping or embossing, which can add more of a wine look, and additional costs that might be in a wasted effort.

When it comes to substrates, some labels are designed to look crafty on uncoated paper, some are designed to be on shinny metalized paper and others use a coated sheet, according to Rob Stevens, vice president of sales for Oak Printing. Pressure sensitive can also be produced on a wide variety of materials such as metallic, clear and wine label stocks. Other quality issues to keep in mind, according to Stevens, are repeatable color reproduction, trimming and die-cutting accuracy in each print run.

“The design and creative aspect is really brand specific,” Stevens said. “There seems to be a trend with some brands to move toward a crafty look utilizing uncoated papers and matte finishes.”

Lane noted that trend as well — the stamp of a “craft” look for the craft beer. Because of that, Lane said brewers should be looking at other ideas to set their brand apart from the crowd.

“It’s a medium to convey brand information on, and while it may be an earthy or natural or a raw look you want, you don’t want to look like all other beers trying to create the same look,” Lane said. “We say spread it out a little bit and look at other options. There are a number of ways to use materials and design to convey the essence of your brand.”

Thirsty Dog paper label from Atlas Labels and Packaging
Thirsty Dog paper label from Atlas Labels and Packaging

Jack Wright, president of Atlas Labels and Packaging, said he’s seeing breweries get more creative with color and shapes. “We have seen an uptrend in matte finishes as opposed to gloss. We still recommend the gloss laminate,” he said.

Wright believes a common misstep brewers make in the design process is not choosing a full color option. He recommends a four-color process and pressure sensitive labels produced at a high density preferably with 150 line screens or higher.

“With only 10 seconds to get a consumer’s attention, they should be an attractive colorful label with the variety of beer easy to read,” he said. Atlas is continuing to add new products for breweries, such as keg collars, and works with more than 500 craft breweries.

Most label companies have a consultative or creative element for brewers unsure of what options to choose or the best visual path to venture down. Lane said about 25 percent of the time, Lofton Label is either starting from scratch or adding substantial value of design to the label itself for the craft brewing industry."


OUGD601 — How to Choose Among Your Craft Beer Label Options

"Craft beer label decisions go well beyond the graphics. The material, the finish, the cut, the adhesive and the adhesion method all need to be considered for utility, look and cost.

Inland Label hosted a two-part webinar to break down these options, and Craft Brewing Business listened in to see what Inland Chief Executive Officer Mark Glendenning had to say.

“Labels are that rare piece of advertisement seen 100 percent of the time. Try to bring innovation into play; tie it into your branding. Also, design to the container. Too often we see art designed flat and not to the container,” he said.

First label question facing a craft brewer: Do you want cut and stack, pressure sensitive or shrink sleeve?

According to Glendenning, Cut and stack labels are still the most widely used option in the industry because of the cost efficiencies gained ordering them in large quantities. But pressure sensitive, a mid-tier label in terms of cost, is gaining share, growing about 3 percent a year. Shrink sleeves, the highest cost option for a brewer, has shown a 6 percent pick up and is the fastest growing, but still significantly lags in overall market share among the three.

But why choose one over the other?

Inland Labels cut and stack
Cut and stack labels can be applied at a very high speed, up to about 1,500 bottles per minute, with either hot or cold glue.

Cut and stack

Cut and stack labels are versatile, with an entire library of paper and film options, and nearly an unlimited selection of shapes for both bodies and necks.

For application, the labeling machine usually consists of two circles: One that spins the labels through glue application and another that spins the bottles into the freshly glued labels for application.  The labels are removed from the first circle by gripper fingers and are placed onto oncoming bottles from the second circle, which then move through a series of brushes for smoothing and wiping down.

Cut and stack labels can be applied at a very high speed, up to about 1,500 bottles per minute, with either hot or cold glue. The downside here is the front-end capital expenditure for implementing such a labeling system.

Your labeling equipment will dictate the type of label you run, but new labeling equipment is making all of this easier, according to Glendenning.  Newer labeling equipment is modular, which will allow a unit to bolt onto a machine, run cold glue for a few days, and then unbolt for completely different run, like pressure sensitive.

Pressure sensitive

Pressure sensitive labels are a middle-cost option, but when taking into account application and adhesive expenses, they are often a more cost-effective option overall for craft brewers.

“With pressure sensitive design, get good glass with a consistently good surface. It’s a limited amount of adhesive to smooth across and it’s susceptible to voids and pits and problems on the glass. It’s more likely for opaque bottle labels to have wrinkles, and for clear bottles to have wrinkles and/ or bubbles.” — Mark Glendenning,  Inland chief executive 0fficer“Pressure sensitive are well-suited for entry-level labeling,” Glendenning said. The reason is the labels come with adhesion pre-applied to the substrate. Pressure sensitive labels are essentially stickers, thus removing the extra glue and application expenses.
Versatility of pressure sensitive labels in terms of shape, size, material and film is similar to cut and stack. Pressure sensitive costs more because the liner that winds up the roll makes it a six-layer product versus cut and stack’s four layers.

Pressure sensitive costs will also increase as speed increases. If you need more bottles per minute, you will then need a material for the liner that helps it withstand the added stress of the faster machine. If you have the machine in house, costs go up there as well as the machine will need better tension controls at higher speeds.

“With pressure sensitive design, get good glass with a consistently good surface,” Glendenning advised. “It’s a limited amount of adhesive to smooth across and it’s susceptible to voids and pits and problems on the glass. It’s more likely for opaque bottle labels to have wrinkles, and for clear bottles to have wrinkles and/ or bubbles.”

Shrink sleeve

Inland Labels_shrink sleeve
More risks and a higher cost, but shrink sleeves look pretty awesome when done right.

Shrink labels are, well, sleeves that shrink. The film is highly engineered with shrink-extraction properties in order to ensure that it shrinks onto the package in a predictable way. That amount development and production drives much of the cost.

Cans are the more friendly option for shrink sleeves because they are simple. Bottles have shoulders and lips and subtleties that create more careful shrinking considerations. Shrink sleeves have also been known to break glass from time to time. Application of a shrink sleeve is typically done by a specialist and not at a brewery.

The advantage of the shrink sleeve is the 360-degree branding opportunity.

“In markets outside of beer, companies have lowered their overall container costs by using a cheaper or less attractive container because the shrink sleeve is covering the entire container with branding,” Glendenning said.

The shrinking of the sleeve is brought on by heat, which is important to remember if you happen to be storing rolls of shrink sleeves. Stored in a hot location, by the time they are pulled out, they may already be shrunk.

Final thoughts

Don’t let the costs and graphics dictate your entire label decision. Every variable will affect the substrates, coatings and adhesives you will need.

Variables to consider:

The environmental impact of your label design. If you are concerned about sustainability, you will probably want a square cut label. Labels are based on squares. If you want a curved label with a curved neck, those are being cut from a square, sending the surrounding material into the trash.

The impact of the bottle on your design. “Design to the bottle so that the main image fits the entire front,” Glendenning said. “Also, do yourself a favor and have a label panel on the bottle. That will lower your costs and your labels will look better, too.”

The curvature of your bottle’s neck. Know where the overlap is for a full-wrapped neck. If you don’t have those measurements just right, the label ends won’t connect and it will look like a mistake.

The end use of your label. How is it being shipped and sold? Who is likely consuming it, and where? When? If you plan on this bottle going to a freezer or an ice bath, you will need a more aggressive adhesive.

The best way to navigate through all of these considerations is with consistent, quality communication with your label supplier throughout the design and procurement process.

“Get connected with us as early as possible in the process,” Glendenning said. “Can’t tell you how many problems are alleviated the sooner we can work with the designer on that label. Review type, bleed, cut tolerance, color specs. Review color expectations. Measure twice, cut once.”


Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.