The world of beer labels and alcoholic drink sales in general may seem to obey different rules than other kinds of food and beverage marketing. After all, these are products that can only be consumed by those of legal drinking age. That restriction appears to invite edgy or even explicit design sensibilities. However, that might not be the best way forward for brewers, who have the potential to accidentally create much more offense than excitement.
The Association Steps In
According to Brewbound, the recent Craft Brewers Conference saw the Brewers Association finally put its foot down on matters of offensive labeling. This means not allowing beers with offending names to be celebrated during association awards ceremonies and preventing them from using Brewers Association branding as a marketing asset.
The trade group is especially interested in wiping out sexist branding, which threatens to bring the craft brewing scene into disrepute. While leaders admitted that legislating matters of taste is always difficult, they believe in improving the image and reach of beer from small breweries. Brewers Association CEO Bob Pease noted that excluding breweries from membership completely would be legally troubling, but blocking offensive beers from awards should have some effect on outreach.
Changing it up
While the Brewers Association can't force brands to move their imagery away from art that's deemed offensive or sexist, some brewers are taking these steps on their own. MiBiz noted that after five years, Saugatuck Brewery decided its Hop on a Blonde ale, with a scantily clad woman covered in hops on the label, should be retired.
The brewery's vice president, Kerry O'Donohue, told the news provider that the change is a matter of perception. In the craft brew field, where brands are not typically represented by ad blitzes or big-money campaigns, labels are the public face of companies. The imagery a brewery prints on its labels becomes a surrogate for that company's personality and philosophy, and relying on sexist imagery could limit appeal.
Quality printing matches great branding
Once breweries have decided on their new branding, creating imagery that will expand their appeal and hopefully help them build their market segment, they have to bring the designs to life via label printers. If companies opt for high-quality hardware in-house, they'll gain independence and convenience married to the kind of professional look that reinforces an organization's expertise and inspires customer confidence.