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Labels and Branding Your Homebrew

What is a Brand?

It’s kind of a broad term, but it all comes down to a consistent “image” or style that is recognizable between products of the same maker. In this case, if two labeled homebrews sat next to each other, could you tell they were all from the same brewer despite being very different homebrews? In this article I’ll go over some of the techniques you can use to create a cohesive brand for your homebrew, as well as a few graphic design pointers. I’ll stay vague as far as software goes since not everyone has the same programs. You should be able to take the skills and implement them wherever you need.

Step 1: Answer Some Questions About Your Homebrew?

These questions will help you further along in the process. If you can’t answer, now is a good time to answer them to allow for better consistency down the road.

  1. Do you have a name? It could be a local landmark (Blackwater Brewing) or just your name (Bob’s Brews) etc.
  2. Do you have a logo, and is it text or an image? This is not to mean that a label can contain only text or only images. An Image logo doesn’t have to be an actual photograph, it can be an illustration as well.

Step 2: Design a Template

Making a template for your labels is a huge step for consistency. The template should include:

  • A place where your logo is always located.
  • Fonts pre-selected for style, ibu’s (international bitterness units), name of beer, flavor text, etc. Try to keep the number of fonts at or below 3, after that it gets confusing and muddled. Also train your eye to differentiate display fonts vs. ones that would be better for larger blocks of copy.

Let’s look at the two examples of Bob’s Brews below, two very different beers that are unmistakably from the same brewer. Once you have a template it’s as easy as swapping out an image (I edited mine to be black and white and gave them a very high opacity (transparency). The front of the label is justified to the left with the flavor text on the right. All I had to do was change the name of the beer, the stats, the image, and the flavor text for the second label.  

Some breweries use simplicity to distinguish their brands. Maine Beer Company’s labels are 90% white with only small symbols or illustrations in the center, with the name of the beer. Everything else is white. Lagunitas on the other hand uses a tidal wave of typography, and while they are somewhat different bottle to bottle, the chaos is part of their brand and it is recognized.

Step 3: Beer Names

Your Label goes a long way towards branding your homebrew. Some breweries take it a step further and incorporate a common theme among beer names. For example, Ballast Point only uses types of fish as their beer names. The options are limitless really.

Other Tips

  • If you’re using a font that is very flashy and has a lot going on, using it over an image may make it very hard to read. If you notice this, but are sure you want that font over the image, you can try adding a drop shadow, or a transparent box behind the type.
  • Try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 colors. Then use shades of those two colors for effect. (Example; light green, dark green, yellow-green etc.).
  • Play around in the software you have, you might discover new techniques that you would like to incorporate into your labels.
  • Experiment with how colors interact with each other. If you take the same color and placed it next to white and placed it next to black, the one next to black will look like a darker color.
  • Don’t hold yourself down. If you want to change up your labels because of a new idea, go ahead! Each new ideation of labels is likely to improve upon the last.

Most importantly, you should be having fun and expressing your creativity with your labels. They don’t have to go through federal approval or compete for shelf space in a crowded isle. As long as you are proud of your work, that’s all that matters. The extra praise from fellow brewers is a bonus.