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Bringing Craft Beer to Life Through Design

The craft beer scene has been flooded with so many newcomers; at last count there were more than 3,000 in the U.S. alone. How does a small, regional brewery stand out in the crowd – especially once they begin to show in retailers outside of their area? That was the dilemma faced by Blue Point Brewery when the Anheuser-Busch subsidiary hired Sausalito, Calif. branding and design firm DDW to introduce their new beers to the world.

“What’s so interesting about the craft beer world right now is that the flavor profiles and the unique ingredients are really interesting, but people might not be willing to try some of those beers if they don’t have a strong brand story,” says DDW Executive Creative Director Ross Patrick.

As it turns out, each of Blue Point’s offerings had an interesting tale to tell, and DDW was the right firm to bring those stories to life.

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Relaying a Common Theme
When telling the Blue Point story, it was important that everything reflect the company’s Long Island roots. “As a brand, everything that comes from them has to have a meaningful connection to the Long Island fishing, boating and nautical scene,” says Patrick. Case in point: The logo features a lighthouse prominently displayed between the words ‘Blue’ and ‘Point.’ “It’s all about this very robust seaside culture.”

Yet each beer has a personality all its own. Here’s how DDW paid homage to some of those personalities without losing site of the brand’s overall story:

  • One of the first projects was the Citrus Plunge IPA, a citrus India pale ale with an orange flavoring. “The juxtaposition of an orange with a nautical theme was very, very tricky,” Patrick explains. DDW’s solution: Feature an 1800s-era diving bell with an orange peel finish and a leaf on top of the helmet. DDW’s design conveyed the ideas of diving and being from the sea, while also incorporating the orange.
  • Another beer, Macho Muchacho, is a Mexican-style lager. “We did a very funny little story about a red snapper wearing a shark fin on his back, trying to trick the fisherman into leaving him alone,” Patrick explains. DDW used limes to design the bait, which was a subtle reference to the fact that you put lime in your Mexican beer. DDW also came up with the name of the beer itself.
  • A series of premium oyster beers had a high-end feel so instead of taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, DDW recommended a more serious, sophisticated vibe. “We got to use some metallic inks in the printing of the labels,” he says. The result: “The impression that it’s a really authentic, unique and premium product.”

“Each of these brews has its own unique personality and story,” says Mike Goefft, managing director of DDW. “But they all hang together as a family within this interesting place called Blue Point Brewing.”

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Creating Humor and Impact
One reason the campaign works is because “conceptually, these aren’t just wacky designs,” Patrick explains. “Not only are the concepts humorous, but they tell you about the beer. If you’re seeing Macho Muchacho, you instantly get in on the humor and then it also is telling you this is a Mexican lager. We’re delivering a one-two punch on these, where we’re upholding the brand’s values and also having a little bit of fun with it.”

The labels have played well on social media and are featured prominently on both DDW’s and Blue Point’s social media feeds. “They’re very funny. They’ve been very clever. They’re very inspiring.” Some have even gone viral among the craft-beer loving community, “just by the nature of the kind of imagery and subject matter that we’re putting together,” Patrick says.

A team of three or four designers worked on each project, and all the typography and illustrations were done by hand. “We customize the style based on what the beer personality is,” he explains.

Both Blue Point and DDW are happy with the campaign. But perhaps craft beer lovers have the most to gain.

“I think this team was able to come up with some really great designs that were right on target because we really understood what the brand was about,” Goefft says. “We knew intuitively what was a good fit.”

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Author: Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a freelance writer and editor who has written extensively about business, careers and success for such publications as Working Mother, Real Simple, and AARP Bulletin.

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