How to Design a Beer Label – The Ultimate Guide

Today, craft beers have become the next big trend. Believe it or not, in the U.S. alone, there are now over 3,000 craft breweries. Microbreweries and brewpubs have become a hit within the recent years, and as they are considered to be a stable and profitable industry, they have surprisingly become serious competitors to all the big names in the beer market.

However, reaching the point of success is never an easy journey for a new beer company. If you are just entering the market and want to know how you can make a statement for yourself, designing the best beer label may be all that it takes.

The key to breaking through the overcrowded beer industry, as with any other, is to make your product and brand stand out from the rest. To do this, you will have to be different. Most importantly, you will have to make a great lasting impression. This is where your beer label design will play a huge role in helping you reach your goals.

Why Your Beer Label Matters

Whether or not your beer brand will make it in the market can simply be up to your label design. Of course, there is no doubt that you have to be great at brewing your beer for it to become a successful product. However, before your customers will even get the chance to taste your amazing beer, you’re going to have to wow them with your label design.

With that being said, labels have become an important matter that beer companies must consider. If you are in the process of creating a label for your brewery, here are some of the design elements you must take into account.

1) Bottles vs. Cans

The first design decision you’ll have to make will be whether or not you would want your beer to be sold in the form of bottles or cans. The choice you make with this will serve as a foundation for the rest of your design. Therefore, oftentimes, this can be a really hard decision to make for a lot of companies.

The thing is that there are definitely pros and cons to both bottles and cans. Whatever you end up choosing will depend on your personal preferences, but it could also be up to the type of beer you want your product to be known for and associated with.

Is your beer a beverage that would be perfect for beaches or is your beer something more suited for fancy parties and music festivals? For beaches, cans might be a better choice due to its functionality. For nice dinners and parties, bottles might be more suitable for aesthetic purposes.

Hence, one of the keys to figuring out the bottle vs. can dilemma is to truly know your product from a branding perspective.

Design your beer can label

How to Design a Beer Label - The Ultimate GuideEfes Pilsen – Credit Source: Behance

When designing your beer bottle label, you’re going to have a holistic understanding of your brand, product, and customers. Here are some of the questions that you are going to need the answers to:

  • What kind of beer are you selling?

Is it an ale, lager, porter, or stout? This will have to be communicated clearly within your label.

  • Where is the beer from?

American, German, Belgian, Irish, etc.

  • Who are you selling beer to?

Young hippies, middle-aged men, or beer experts? Not even the biggest brands will be able to appeal to all types of customers, so be as specific as you can. Your beer and product label will be aesthetically different depending your choice.

  • How will your target customers buy your beer?

At a local store, special beer store, or online?

  • What kind of packaging will you have for your beer?

Will it come as a singular bottle or a case?

Apart from that, another important decision you’re going to have to make is the choice of color for your bottle. There are currently three beer bottle colors available which includes green, brown, and a clear bottle. Each of these bottle colors will have different functionalities, therefore, picking the right color to match your product type and brand personality will be necessary.

Other times, your decision on the bottle color could also just depend on the aesthetic and cultural choice you’re trying to adhere to.

Green bottles

These colored bottles are heavily used by many of the big beer brands. Think Heineken, Carlsberg, and Stella Artois. To differentiate themselves from these brands, many smaller craft beer brands refrain from using this colored bottle. Green bottles are also mostly used for beers that aren’t as susceptible to light.

Brown bottles

In contrast to green bottles, brown bottles help filter out ultraviolet as well as bright light. This ultimately helps protect the beer from going bad. Brown bottles are commonly used by many brands as it typically pairs well with any label color.

Clear bottles

These bottles are mostly used for aesthetic purposes. Since the color of the beer will eventually become the background color of the label design, clear bottles can be used to provide designers with creative opportunities. They also happen to be used for light summer beers in order to show off its natural color. Think Corona or Desperados.

Design your cans bottles label

How to Design a Beer Label - The Ultimate GuideTruman’s Brewery – Credit source: Truman’s

Similar to beer bottles, the things you’ll need to know when designing a beer can label will be the same.

However, as beer cans often come in a six-pack, your label design will also have to compliment your packaging very well. Any discrepancies between your beer label and packaging design could weaken your branding strategy. So, make sure that the design elements closely align with one another.

Keep in mind that beer cans come in more colors and that you will no longer be limited to just green, brown, or clear material. Hence, there will be a lot more room for you to play around with the design but also the texture of your packaging.

2) Beer Label Colors

There will be an infinite number of possibilities when it comes to choosing your beer label colors. However, if you happen to choose bottles over cans, there will be certain colors that pair better with some beer bottle colors than others.

For example, to increase the visual appeal of a green beer bottle, it is recommended to use black and white labels with hints of red. For brown bottles, any label color would work, however, warm colors are more commonly used. Selecting a shade that will help your customers recognize the type of beer you’re selling could also be a good idea. You may use a lighter shaders for blonde beers and dark shades for stout.

For clear bottles, it would be best to use a label color that either matches or highly contrasts with the color of your beer. For a light-colored beer, red or blue could be a good choice. For darker-colored beer, you may want to choose bright colors.

How to Design a Beer Label - The Ultimate Guide

Marmota Legalager – Credit Source: Pantone

As color is known to influence the emotions and connection that consumers feel towards your product, always remember to pick a color that best correlates with how you want your beer or brewery to be perceived.

Creating a great beer label is not only about being creative with your color choices. At the end of the day, its also about making yourself memorable to your target consumers. Therefore, a valuable tip would also be to choose a label color that are different to your competitors as this will allow your product to pop from the shelves.

3) Label shape and size

For your beer labels, you may choose to stick to a traditional shape and size. Standard shapes include rectangular and oval labels as they are much easier to print. Standard sizes include 2.75” x 4.25”, 3.25” x 4”, and 5” x 2” for 12 oz. or 20 oz. bottles.

If you would like to personalize your label a little bit more, you may choose a die cut label. Many craft beer brewers tend to select this option as it allows them to create custom shapes and sizes. This is what helps enhance the visual appeal of their designs while also making them more fitting to their unique identity.

Some shapes that have been used for beer labels include stubbies, longneck, growlers, and cone shapes. Although this label choice will require a higher budget for the printing cost, it could be very well worth the price.

How to Design a Beer Label - The Ultimate GuideTicketyBrew – Credit Source: Carter Wong Design

Other choices that you’ll have to make regarding your beer label would be the number of labels you want and the type of paper you might want to use. While some brands prefer to have separate labels for the neck, front, and back of their beer bottle, others prefer one that just wraps around the bottle perfectly.

As for the material of the label, standard coated paper can be used. However, transparent, metallic, or matte material or finish could also serve as a great additional touch of detail to your product.

4) Typography

Apart from your label’s color, shape, and size, words will also be an essential part to your design. Hence, the typography that you use for your label design could say a lot about who you are as a brand.

Fonts are an incredible element that can be used to visually communicate your brand identity with more specificity. For example, you may use serif or script fronts if your beer or brewery has more of a classic or exclusive identity.

Many craft breweries today tend to use fun and crazy fonts to add more personality to their label so do not be afraid to experiment with all the playful fonts there are out there. Nonetheless, whichever type of font you end up choosing, make sure that they remain readable as this will help customers remember you even better.

5) Style and Pictures

When looking at the labels of traditional beer, you’ll most likely notice that its style is pretty much simplistic. The design involves the use of a prominent color, a large brand name that can easily be read, and a very subtle label texture.

Yet, ever since the booming trend of craft breweries, labels have become more like a work of art. Beer label designss have definitely gotten more and more creative, and a lot of times, they can become collectible items for many beer lovers. Recently, we have seen all sorts of styles being implemented onto beer labels. This includes minimalism, fantasy, pop art, and retro styles.

How to Design a Beer Label - The Ultimate GuideCamden Town Brewery – Credit Source: Studio Juice

When choosing the style and type of pictures that you may want to use for your label, one of the main factors that you’ll have to consider is your target customer. Depending on the type of audience you want to attract, this should set the specific style for your label.

To appeal to younger and experimental customers, you may want to adopt an outlandish, hippie, or witty design style. For a classier and older crowd, you may want to use minimalist styles.

Additionally, you could also set the style according to your product type or country of origin. For example, if your beer is especially made to be drunk at the beach, you may want your label to look more tropical. Use images of palm trees, ocean waves, or the sun to accentuate this. For beers that are brewed at a specific country, you may want to implement more cultural styles to your design.

6) Legal Requirements

Designing beer labels can be all fun and games but do not forget that there are many legal requirements involved in the process.

When it comes to beer, there are particular rules that you must follow. Not abiding to these rules could simply result in your beer not being sold. For graphic designers, this could also result in some disappointed clients.

According to the U.S. Brewing association, these are all the elements that must be included within your label for it to be approved:

  • Net content: State how much beer is in the bottle (ml and oz are measurements typically used)
  • Alcohol content: How many percent alcohol. This number must be rounded to the nearest 0.1%. Legal requirements for this may also vary by state or country so do your research beforehand
  • Legibility: This may affect your design choices in typography. Some information needs to be large enough to read and basic fonts must be used. Read over the rules carefully for this
  • Type size: This is the font size and amount of characters per inch of the label
  • Beer class and type: State whether your beer is a malt, stout, IPA, etc.
  • Name and address: Included for business reasons. If you plan to sell beer in stores, you will also need to leave space for the UPC code

Apart from legal requirements, there are no other limits when it comes to designing a beer label. Today, beer consumers tend to be more attracted to designs that are creative, unique, and a bit quirky. As a designer, this will open up many opportunities for you to fully showcase your skills and play around with different styles.

If you are in need of help with designing a beer label, do not hesitate to contact us for more information. We have a team of design experts who are able to create the top-quality packaging labels for your brewery.

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