Once you’ve perfected your home brew the next step is giving your liquid child a face and name. The process of finding the perfect recipe is extremely important, but few people reach for a label-less bottle. No matter how great your own beer may be, you need to offer a image and name that can brand your beer. This is not only great fun, allowing you to become creative on a entirely different way, but also the way to establish a fan-base. Whether you’re extending your brand to local bars and liquor stores, or simply sharing your talent with friends and family, having a definable brand adds a personality that an plain bottle can never have.
There are many different ways to approach the branding of your drink and it’s not fair to so one approach is better than another. The important thing is to be creative, have fun and give your brew a definable name. The only true rule of thumb is to do something new. This is much easier than it sounds – you don’t have to worry about running an ad campaign and catering to the desires of a distribution company. You are your own management, bottler, brewer and distribution all in one. So have fun, take advantage of your creative freedom and give your best recipe a face and name that you’re proud to call your own.
Many different strategies from major brands can be used to help brainstorm ideas for creating your own beer label. Some of the most popular and successful companies use basic designs with great success. Budweiser captures the idea of patriotism with the red, white and blue labels. Samuel Adams uses the iconic image and name of one of America’s best known founding fathers. Rolling Rock doesn’t bother with labels and actually has a their logo and message painted directly on each green bottle in white paint. Many craft breweries blend the labeling process with visual art and have different labels with artwork to reflect a particular message or idea. Flying Dog, a small-but-popular, brewery from Frederick, Maryland took a unique approach to bringing art to the bottle – hiring the famous artist Ralph Steadman to design all of their labels. Steadman is the famous artist that is best known for working alongside the famous writer and founder of ‘gonzo’ journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. Not only does the Flying Dog brand have a great product, but they bring a unique approach to their branding simply through the labels artwork. A particular brew was even named in honor of the late author, “Gonzo Imperial Porter.”
So you have plenty of options regarding colors, logos and brand names. The difficult part is deciding what is suitable to place on the small canvas that is a glass bottle. The canvas expands slightly using the approach of Rolling Rock and using paint rather than a paper label. This is also a more expensive and timely approach for small-scale operations. A simple paper label is easy to mass-produce, so once a design has been established it’s easy to run with it. If you’re good at art try making samples in pencil; a great way to try different ideas regarding shading and design. Alternatively, for the less artistically inclined, a basic graphic design program on a computer can provide inspiration for great visual ideas. If you have already decided on a name, taking a visual design that relates to that particular name or theme is always a great idea. Still, it’s smart to ask around – even with a small group of friends – as several people working together for a single cause provides different perspectives. Suppose you and your brew-mates decide on a great visual design, but are having trouble bringing the idea to the actual label. This can be incredibly frustrating, but fortunately there is an easy, often overlooked solution: hiring an artist. This doesn’t have to be a big investment either – a great source is a local tattoo artist. Tattoo artists make a living taking a person’s subjective idea for a tattoo and turning it into a piece of art on the most difficult of canvases – the human body. Tattoo artists have reasonable prices for their service, and they are always open to collaborate with their customers – their success relies on maintaining a good relationship with customers. In fact, the act of making others’ artistic ideas become a reality is the essence of a successful tattoo artist. For this reason, you can be confident that a skilled tattoo artist is likely the best designer to hire to assist with the design process. Once you have the prototype design, the legal work to copyright/trademark your design is simple paperwork. Now you have not only a great recipe, but a name and face for you liquid creations!