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Designing the Ultimate Craft Beer Label

With more than 6,000 breweries in the United States alone, it’s harder than ever to make your craft beer stand out. While a quality product matters, never underestimate the importance of the right label. A quality label brands your beer and hopefully creates such a strong impression that consumers can’t resist taking it from the shelves. Consider the following points when designing a craft beer bottle label for a client or your own brewery.

Image via Flickr by niseag03

Colors can help consumers easily identify the type of beer you’re selling. Red labels are traditionally used for red beers. Ambers use amber labels. Stouts often have dark brown labels. If your craft brewery has a traditional identity, you could follow these conventions. If your brand is more modern, you might consider breaking these unspoken rules.

Beer labels traditionally use just one predominant color, which gives them a clean look. You could use a couple of colors for a more surprising look, but don’t go overboard. Too many colors can confuse the eye and your message.

Consider Color Psychology

Colors can also spark powerful emotions, so use them carefully. Green makes us feel content and relaxed, so it’s a great choice for craft breweries with chilled-out identities. It also symbolizes nature and the environment. This makes green a smart choice for eco-conscious breweries. White’s clean, crisp quality makes people feel secure. Black labels suggest sophistication and class. They can be an excellent choice for craft breweries producing premium brews. Orange is an energetic color that’s perfect for party beers. Blue is one of the most common brand colors because it suggests trust and reliability.

Pair Your Label With the Right Glass

Consider how your label will look against the glass. If your glass is clear, then the beer’s color also comes into play. Brown and clear bottles offer a relatively neutral palette, so they’ll work well with any color label. Warm oranges, golds, and reds are traditional choices, as they are reminiscent of the color of beer itself. However, choosing a more surprising cool color can help your beer stand out. That’s a smart tactic if your brewery positions itself as a quirky or contemporary choice.

Green bottles aren’t as versatile, but since they aren’t as common, they can also stand out on the shelves. Neutral black-and-white labels are natural choices, but red also complements green on the color wheel.

Type It Right

Just like color, typography communicates a lot about your beer and brand. Serif typefaces, such as Times New Roman and Courier, have a traditional feel. That makes them a smart choice for older breweries or ones with older drinkers. Script typefaces evoke a similar nostalgia.

New breweries targeting young drinkers may prefer using sans-serif fonts on their labels. These fonts have a much cleaner, more contemporary look.

Novelty typefaces can be another fun option for quirky brands. However, some of these fonts can be difficult to read. Customers must be able to read your label to remember your brand. Ask a few people you trust whether your label design is legible.

Add Graphic Elements

The right graphic elements can look appealing and explain more about your brand. A company crest celebrates a traditional brewery’s history. It also makes its beer look trustworthy. Quirky illustrations or cartoon mascots can reflect the personalities of contemporary breweries.

Your label’s graphics should say something about your brand. Perhaps your brewery has a dog that greets visitors at your tasting room. Adding the dog’s image to the label will resonate with people who love visiting you in person. If your brewery uses techniques from another country, include motifs celebrating that culture. Your graphics should say something about your brand, not just look attractive.

A clean, minimalist label design positions your brewery as a classy upmarket brand. Include only vital graphic elements and subtle details, such as a gentle abstract design, for visual appeal. More graphic elements can make your brewery seem approachable and fun.

Think Shape and Size

Traditional beer labels are a classic rectangular shape, measuring either 2.75” x 4.25”, 3.25” x 4”, or 5” x 2.”. Following conventions works well for craft breweries that celebrate tradition. However, if your brewery positions itself as more alternative, you can play with the shape and size.

The size of your bottle will influence your label’s dimensions. A 12-ounce bottle is standard. If you choose a 20-ounce bomber or another larger custom shape, a larger-than-average label will look best.

Printing labels with custom sizes and shapes costs more than printing standard labels, though. Price may impact your decision if you have a small or new brewery.

Consider Your Material Choice

Classic beer labels are printed on regular glossy paper. However, choosing something more unusual is another way to differentiate your brewery. For example, a transparent label can make your brewery seem youthful. While non-traditional material choices are eye-catching, they can also be expensive. Run your numbers carefully. This will help you decide whether to spend more to perhaps attract more customers.

Don’t Forget the Fine Print

It’s easy to get carried away with the way your beer labels look, but don’t forget about legal requirements. The Brewers Association requires all beer labels to show how much is in the bottle and the beer class and type. If you want to sell your beers in stores, you’ll also need space for the UPC code. Some states also require you to display your beer’s alcohol content.

All legal information must be legible and large enough to easily read. A clear font is also important for readability. Your background also shouldn’t impair legibility. Placing essential information in contrasting text boxes is a good way to ensure legibility.

It doesn’t matter how good your beer is if your label doesn’t entice consumers to choose it from the shelf. Consider proven label design principles to make your beer irresistible. Once you’re happy with your finished label, contact us at Chicago Automated Labeling at 219-248-1653. We have more than 25 years of experience, so you can trust our high-speed product label applying machines to make your beer look its best.