An assortment of bottles with custom beer labels.

How Independent Brewers Can Stand Out Against Big Brands with Custom Beer Labels

With no signs of the beer market slowing down any time soon, shelf space continues to grow—along with the competition for consumers’ attention. While big beer brands spend millions on advertising each year to ensure that customers recognize their cans or bottles, independent brewers need to make an immediate, in-store impression. So how can independent brewers make their packaging stand out on the shelves? We’ve put together a few ideas.

Promote Personality

Beer drinkers are often drawn to beer and packaging that resonates with their personality. For the same reason that refreshing citrus beers are popular in summer, consumers want a beer that matches their mood.

Consider your target consumer. Think about the following questions:

  • What kind of personality traits do they have?
  • How do they want to feel when they’re drinking this beer?
  • How and where are they buying this beer?

The Craft Beer Branding Guide recommends choosing three to five personality traits to use with your packaging design. Using our summer citrus beer example, you may want to choose traits like fun, relaxing, and outgoing to capture the right personality for your product.

Beer bottle label design for Imperial Pajamas.

Embrace Customization

It’s not uncommon to see breweries use a consistent theme across different lines of beer. This cohesion gives breweries the opportunity to maintain a consistent brand theme while still customizing each can. Here are a few considerations when thinking about customization:

  • Beer Type – If you have several lines of beer, you can customize each can or bottle to reflect that particular style of beer while still maintaining the overall personality of the brewery.
  • Geography – Whether your beer is only offered regionally, or you want to take inspiration from your independent brewery’s home state or city, using geographic imagery and personality can build an instant connection with consumers. You can also channel some geographic themes depending on the style of beer, whether it’s a New England IPA or a Scottish ale.
  • Collection – Want to build an avid following? Designing beer labels that are so compelling that your fans want to collect them is a great start, whether you have a specific series of beers or want to add something special to every different can through variable label printing. This way you can entice your audience to try each style of beer in your collection!

Be Different

Once you know and understand the feelings that you want your beer to embody, you need to start thinking about differentiation. At a time when beer is booming, you’re competing for attention on the shelf. In this case, it’s good to be different, but figuring out how your labels should be different takes some work.

Do Some Research

You don’t need to hire a market research firm to do some quick competitive research. Go to your local grocery or liquor store and check out your competition. Look at both big brand competition and other independent beers and take note of the following:

  • Do they use cans or bottles?
  • What colors are primarily used?
  • What imagery is commonly seen?
  • How do they display their brand, beer name, and other information?
  • Are they using any special label techniques, like embossing or hot foil stamping?

Ways to Differentiate Your Beer Label

Now that you know what the competition is doing, it’s time to think about how your beer label is going to draw in beer drinkers in the store. Think about the following ways to differentiate your label:

  • ColorLabel color plays a big part in attracting consumers. You can use color to make people feel a certain way when seeing your beer on the shelf and enjoying it after their purchase.
  • Shape and Size – If all your competition has a traditional wrap-around label, consider investing in a custom label shape, playing with different label sizes, or adding an additional label for the bottle neck. These can help your beer stick out in the crowd.
  • Typography – Ideally, your brewery’s brand has a unique and compelling logo. That should include the words on your label as well.
  • Imagery – This is your opportunity to stand out. If all the other summer beers use images of citrusy fruit and sunshine, you’ll just blend in with all the other imitators. Do something different that still evokes that summer feel to make sure that you stand on your own.
  • Materials – While most beer labels are printed on coated paper, there are other options that can add a new dimension to the look and feel of your beer. A flatter, more matte paper than can help a bottle stand out.
  • Special Techniques/Processes – Hot foil stamping can exude sophistication and elegance. Embossed labels can add flair and draw attention to specific design elements. A quality printer can offer up many other ideas to make a label stand out from the competition.

A digital printing professional looking at a beer label design.

Find the Right Label Designer and Printer

Once you’ve identified the feeling and personality that you want your beer label to have, it’s time to find a designer that can bring that to life. Check out Blue Label Digital’s Designer Directory for a list of hand-picked designers that know how to make this happen.

When you’re ready to pick a printer, make sure you’re working with one that has the knowledge and experience to make your design stand out on the shelf. Blue Label Digital’s quality is unmatched, we offer fair pricing, and our turnaround time is just three to five business days. Contact us today to talk to us about your next beer label printing project.

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