Designing the Packaging

With packaging, it’s the details that count. Every teeny element communicates a message to your potential customer about who you are, what you stand for and why they should choose your beer over your competitors. This means everything is up for grabs.

What colours are you using? Are you using boxes or cardboard carriers? How do the product names tie back into your overall brand positioning? This is a good time to bring back that “If your beer was a person” thing we mentioned in the Prepare Your Brief spiel. Does every element of your packaging shout that person’s personality?

The vessel

What about your product vessel? In terms of functionality you have two formats. Glass and aluminium cans. Your choice will need to speak to your customers’ needs. Let’s fire off some questions to consider.

  • Where will the beer be consumed? What’s the occasion? Single serve or large format for sharing?
  • How about filling? On-site (your filling line) or somewhere else (contract filling lines)
  • Support? What happens when stuff goes wrong? Will your chosen suppliers be easy to contact and get stuff fixed?
  • Closures? Pull top cans or crown seal bottle caps?

And then there are the more emotional factors

  • The shape? Are you a squat bottle sort of brewery or a long skinny can? If you have the budget, consider something bespoke which is achievable with glass
  • Quality is important. Will your vessel support or detract from your brand?
  • Sustainability? Is this important to you because it is important to your customers. Where do the materials come from and what actually happens when your vessel is recycled? Sustainable packaging comes with credentials that might be an extra selling point for you

If your business is ramping up, and you need to think volumes, then there obviously is a few more things you need to consider

  • Speak to an experienced packaging supplier and get some trials going before you commit to anything
  • Use your associations and institutes to help you with advice. Check out our Resources section for details
  • Find that point of balance between positioning, price, branding, shipping and how your product ranges up on the shelf
  • You’ll need to think about shipping too. Cartons? Outers and inners? EANs? Barcodes? What does your retailer require for storage and displays
Get it labelled

Ok, brand sorted. Packaging sorted. What about the bottle or can label?

Consider your label a small piece of valuable real estate. It needs to be appealing, so get clear on the mandatory information you need to communicate, then use the remaining space to get creative with your brand. Labels don’t have to be just rectangles either, but there are special actions you’ll need to stick too.

Printing your label can be tricky. Suffice to say, sticking to simple and cost-effective options will see you good. Your printer can advise you on paper types to use, and print processes. Generally speaking, digital printing is a cheap and easy option for small jobs, while offset printing is better for large amounts (over 2000) printed. Digital is costed at a per label rate while offset uses plates so the cost per label will drop the more you print. Or simply get in touch with your packaging expert and they’ll sort the lot out for you.

Also, check out Legal stuff below for some of the laws governing packaging.

If your business is ramping up, and you need to think volumes, then there obviously is a few more things you need to consider

  • Speak to an experienced packaging supplier and get some trials going before you commit to anything
  • Use your associations and institutes to help you with advice. Check out our Resources section for details
  • Find that point of balance between positioning, price, branding, shipping and how your product ranges up on the shelf
  • You’ll need to think about shipping too. Cartons? Outers and inners? EANs? Barcodes? What does your retailer require for storage and displays
mac's bottle glass

getting innovative

Crafting your beer is as much about the beer as it is about the brand, the vessel and the packaging. It is also a massive global trend that is changing the way we consume beer - and the perfect place to add in a little ingenuity. Here’s a couple of innovation examples that we were proud to be involved with recently.

The Provider

The Provider came out of a wish to to help Aussie and Kiwi craft beer makers break into Asia and was a collaboration of industry experts and students at Auckland’s Unitec Institute of Technology. It was designed to reflect innovation in product manufacturing, but also to reflect the Asian drinking culture of sharing. The bottles are 328, 518 and 888ml, numbers that are thought to be lucky.

Good George Brewing

946ml Squealer Bottle

Good George Brewing refreshed their well-loved range of craft beers and cider into bespoke bottles and cans. The brief was to develop vessels that reflected the core values of the Good George brand—fun, quality, innovation and community. What was important was developing packaging that perfectly matched the occasion they were designed for. Consideration was given to how retailers would also sell, display and store the product for best sales results.

Tuatara Brewing

When Tuatara began to move into international markets and single bottle sales, they realised they needed a way for the quiet little reptile to become the loudest on the supermarket shelf. The idea of using the tuatara’s spiny tail in the bottle design was simple in theory, yet the technical challenges that came with bringing the idea to life were massive. O-I developed an asymmetrical bottle design using hand stamped moulds, and the result is a globally recognised bottle that has helped catapult the brand onto the world stage.

Other Design Considerations

Make sure your branding guys are aware of everywhere you need brand presence. You’ll want to ensure your design is consistent across every aspect of the business e.g. signage, tap handles, website, trucks.

Merchandise

Merch is a fun way to allow loyal fans to publicly show their support, not to mention the fact they become free walking billboards for you. When designing your merch, bear in mind that not many people will want to wear a plain old logo on their chest, so put some work into developing a number of cool visual designs or unique slogans that make people smile. This is another thing your branding guys can help with.

Sponsorship

Is sponsorship part of your brand strategy? Whether you’re giving out free or discounted product, or sponsoring a group or cause on a monetary level, sponsorship can be a powerful and cost-effective way to connect with like-minded audiences and grow your brand presence. Try to find groups or causes your particular type of customer is likely to affiliate with, that also align with your brand values.

Legal Stuff

So you’ve got your logo designed and your labels all ready to go. But before you hit print, you need to know there are strict laws around what you can and can’t include on your labels and packaging. If you’re new, here’s a quick checklist to save you time, hassle, grey hairs and legal fees.

The big dogs

Food Standards Australia have everything you need to know about the mandatory requirements for labelling. Be prepared to spend a lot of time scouring these sites, as a small mistake can cost you both time and money. See our Resources section for more information.

Make time for mistakes

As much as you’ve read and re-read the regulations, you still might not get it right first time, so factor amends into your project timeline.

Don’t restrict yourself

Just because you have a checklist of 15-odd things to cram on your label, doesn’t mean you should give up on the creativity. Sure, the rules are tight, but that never stopped you expressing yourself at high school did it? It’s simply a matter of designing the heck out of the wiggle room you’ve got.

Get inspired

Go buy a few similar offerings from different breweries to get some ideas around how they’ve worked creatively within the labelling laws. There are a few brands out there that have done a beautiful job at making the legal bits fit aesthetically into their overall approach. Again, check out our Resources section for more detail.