Beer packaging design is often seen as unimportant when compared to the taste. While taste is vital, consumers will go through a list of judgments before your beer reaches their lips.
According to Marketing Profs, one-third of consumer purchase choices are based on packaging.
After all, your branding and marketing is the first thing your customers notice when buying beer online or offline. If you don’t hook them with your packaging, they’ll walk right on by.
In this article, we’ll look at the history of packaging and branding and how that influences our current regulations. Then, we’ll discuss how packaging affects our decisions today.
The History of Beer Branding and Packaging
According to the NIH, 85.6% of people over 18 have drunk alcohol at some point in their lives. Drinking is embedded in our culture, so you don’t have to use hard selling techniques to convince consumers. However, you need to be unique to stand out from the competition.
For the longest time, you didn’t need to actually “brand” alcohol. Most people created their alcohol for personal use or exchanged it for other community-created goods or services.
It wasn’t until the mid-1800s that branding and packaging played a big part in the industry. At this point, brands were associated with specific liquors. From there, beer was often placed in bottles and was sold with a distinct label. This simple beer branding shift made it easier for businesses to advertise.
A Brief Overview of Packaging Regulations
As with any new industry, many advertising techniques were banned. These regulations were mostly made to protect children, but they also serve to make your brand social media friendly.
For example, if you want to display your beer on contactless menus, you must abide by current media policy regulations, such as not displaying adult content in your branding.
Here’s what you can and can’t do with alcoholic beer packaging design:
- Do: Include mandatory label information, such as brand name and ingredients.
- Don’t: Include sensitive content, such as adult content, gore, or hateful images.
- Do: Make the information on your label easy to read and understand.
- Don’t: Intentionally include graphics that could be appealing to minors.
- Do: Include pictures of adults or animals on the products.
- Don’t: Add any misleading references or information to your packaging.
- Do: State that alcohol should be drunk responsibly.
- Don’t: Imply that drinking can benefit a social or sexual situation.
- Do: Use your brand’s unique voice to sell your alcohol.
- Don’t: Say that alcohol has physical or mental health benefits.
As you can see, few regulations impact the design of your beer packaging, although regulators are iffy regarding cartoons or allusions to rock and rap music.
How Beer Branding and Packaging Influences Behaviors
There’s no secret that branding and packaging influence our buying behaviors, but to what extent is that true? Let’s take a look at the psychology behind the beer marketing industry.
How Our Feelings Choose for Us
Picture this: You’re sitting at a patio bar on a hot summer’s day. You’re thirsty, so you decide to order a beer. Do you say you want a beer, or do you ask for a specific brand? More than likely, you’ll ask for a brand you like, but let’s say the restaurant doesn’t have that beer in stock.
Would you choose another beer? According to studies, 80% of customers consider themselves loyal after they purchase a product 3 to 5 times, so you’d probably want to stick with your brew.
You likely feel this way for two reasons.
- You probably find your go-to beer comforting.
- You associate a part of your personality with this brand.
If you think that sounds weird, think of a beer brand you dislike and imagine the people who drink it. Is your reaction positive?
How Marketing Creates Association
Whatever your reaction to the question in the last section may be, your opinion of the beer was likely influenced by your first impression, and nothing affects this more than the physical.
For example, men gravitate towards beer because of its association with masculinity. However, phytoestrogens in beer (an estrogen that affects the human body) are fifty times more potent than genistein found in soy, which doesn’t affect you. Beer also used to be a woman’s drink.
From that example alone, it isn’t hard to see the power alcohol branding has on consumers.
How Brewery Packaging Design Changes Minds
Craft beer is quickly taking over the industry, which changes how we perceive beer in general. However, there are still some branding main-stays that appear in modern beer packaging types.
Colors and Typography
If we look at the most popular beers in the world, we’ll start to see a pattern. Red, blue, and black are used in packaging, commonly associated with masculinity. But modern brands, like Temescal Brewing, are multicolored, which appeals to a broader demographic.
Color also influences our emotions, although these influences vary based on different factors, such as gender, age, and culture. Budweiser’s non-alcoholic beer is a good example of a color association in our culture, as the logo mutes the reds and adds more black. This makes the non-alcoholic choice seem more classy, clean, and pure than the original beer.
Our brains also associate typography with different feelings. For example, cursive is elegant, whereas meme fonts, like Comic Sans, aren’t taken seriously. If the color of your font clashes with the rest of your design, it’ll be hard to read, which is a problem for any consumer.
Graphics and Layouts
Graphics and typography go a long way to attract consumers. Bright, minimalist graphics, like the flowers and geometric shapes found on Erin Phipps’s beer can mock-up, is an attention grabber. Its design also tells consumers what they can expect from the flavor: hibiscus rose.
What’s more, the layout isn’t cluttered, making everything easy to read. If this beer packaging design was placed on the outside packaging, it would really draw eyes due to its bright colors and innovative look. The only thing missing is a logo, as brand loyalty plays a big part in our purchasing decisions.
Packaging Size and Shape
Packaging size, shape, and quality are essential for shelf space and shippability. It also helps us assess value.
Piaget’s Theory of Conservation states that:
A taller, narrower glass holds more liquid than a shorter, wider glass, even when we’re told that both glasses hold the same amount.
A package that looks taller or larger will get more attention, but elongated shapes (or unique shapes) are typically more eye-catching. In the end, being unique wins the day. For example, Calserg’s new rebrand includes really tall and super short packaging in their signature green.
Finally, packaging your beer with premium materials can make your brand look more expensive. Customers are going to be turned off if your packaging breaks, rips, or deteriorates quickly.
You Can Have the Best Beer Packaging Design
One thing is clear, the better your brewery packaging design, the more sales your brews are going to have. This has always been important with shelf space at a premium and lines of colorful taps at bars, but it’s even more critical in a time when selling alcohol online is becoming increasingly more common.