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Crafting the Perfect Label: Tips and Tricks to Make Your Brew Stand Out

Crafting the Perfect Label: Tips and Tricks to Make Your Brew Stand Out

Whether you run a microbrewery or make your own beer in your garage for summer barbecues, it is safe to say you are passionate about beer. Nobody gets into the craft beer game without a deep and abiding love for unique, thoughtfully made brew. Every step of the craft beer process requires skill, practice, consideration and keen decision-making — that’s why it’s called a craft. But if everything about how you make your beer requires effort and passion, the beer’s packaging and label should be no different. Of course you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover (or a beer by its bottle), but a nice cover often means a publisher really wants a book to catch the reader’s eye — and the same is true for brewers and beer. 

According to Nielsen, 66% of American craft beer consumers are more likely to buy a beer based on its packaging or label. 70% choose their beer off the shelf rather than in advance, and 71% prefer brands with interesting labels. 75% of women and 65% of men are more likely to be swayed by packaging. And what all these numbers mean is you’re at least ⅔ more likely to make a sale with a good label than if you blend into the pack. Luckily, there are some easy tricks for the craft brewer looking to up their labeling game, even if they just want to get a laugh out of friends who open the cooler to grab a bottle of the old homemade for the tailgate party. 

A beer label’s look is literally its most obvious quality. Before a consumer touches or puts any wear on your label, they’re going to see it, and there are many ways to make a craft beer label catch the eye. Many brewers go for a look of practiced authenticity, creating the illusion of an amateur enthusiast’s bottle — simple designs with imperfect typesetting to convey a classic, unpretentious look straight out of the neighborhood bodega or corner store. But it’s also easy to get lost amid all those aw-shucks Old Peculiars and numbered stations and vats. So some brewers go for a more unique, artistic look, perhaps with cartoony or avant-garde elements. More than anything, if you want a craft beer to stand out, pay attention to what everyone else is doing, figure out what works about that, and see if you can evoke a similar feeling with a different sort of design.

If this artistic advice is a bit lofty, there are more straightforward ways to go the extra mile and really make a label stand out. A simple design can really become something special with the right design elements, while a distinctive label becomes unforgettable if it’s also given an extra touch. If a brewer is willing to pay a bit more, metallic effects can make a brew appear either more sophisticated or more down-to-earth. Brighter, bolder inks are more likely to draw the eye on a shelf, as could a die-cut label in some shape besides a square or circle. A label could even be stamped or embossed to create a luxurious effect, as nothing draws the eye like texture amid a sea of flat wrappers.

Texture is even more important to another major aspect of an appealing label: how it feels. The second the consumer picks up a bottle, that bottle should have a distinct presence in their hand to really stand out. A smooth or glossy label creates a sense of modern sleekness, while a bit of roughness or a memorable texture conveys age and grit. Touch is a great primer for taste, so a label that somehow conveys the taste of the beer through its texture is going to create anticipation for the beverage in the bottle. Just be certain that the label feels sturdy for typical beer bottle wear-and-tear — a cheap piece of paper that dissolves to nasty pulp in the cooler isn’t going to make anyone thirsty. 

No matter what sort of label is ideal for each craft beer, the best thing for a brewer to do is consult with a labeling expert. Manufacturers of bottles, stickers, and other packaging elements are uniquely equipped to help the brewer determine what represents their beer’s brand. Whether embossed directly into the bottle or printed on a handsome, high-quality sticker or decal, a craft beer’s label should represent the passion and effort that went into every bottle. People drink craft beer to experience a unique connection with a product, and the right label can start that connection off in a memorable place of enjoyment. 

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