It’s Friday night; you are out with your friends ready to enjoy a cold beer to cap off your long week. Do you choose that locally made IPA? Or perhaps smooth Stout? Maybe you settle for a longstanding national beer, the one your grandfather has been drinking for 50 years?
Nowadays, it’s not unheard of to go to your local pub, beer or grocery store to find a plethora of craft beers alongside major beer brands. The competition amongst breweries is fierce. Craft breweries are trying to cut into the market share that national breweries hold. In order to accomplish this, much time and attention to detail is devoted to the brewing process as well as the creation of the marketing and branding material – all initiatives must perfectly align in order to become established in the marketplace.
Conyngham Brewing Company (CBC) is a local brewery in northeastern Pennsylvania launching their first brew next week. Last year I met with the owner discussing his design goals for this new brand; how he wanted the identity and packaging to reflect the innovative and full-flavored line of beers he is creating, as well as his family heritage and the history of the quaint little town of Conyngham,.
With his comments in mind, I went to work, using this 4-step checklist of design initiatives to prepare several options:
Font: It was important to my client to incorporate an Old English-style font. The history surrounding a font of this nature is reflective of the calligraphic hands that were used pre-industrial revolution. This type of font is ornate, and if not utilized correctly, can be hard to read. In order to juxtapose the characteristics of the main font, I chose a simpler secondary font – together they complement the historic aesthetic CBC wants to convey. When you are working with your client make sure to show them how other fonts could work in concert with one another. Doing history and research, as well as talking with your client, will help you get off on the right foot to nail down font options.
Color Palette: In order to balance the ornate characteristics of the font, I introduced a bold, bright color palette, yellow, gray and black, which were also inspired by his family coat-of-arms. I also proposed a version with a muted color palette, but the font was getting lost, the overall identity was not strong enough to stand out. Also, by using tints and shades of the two main colors, yellow and black, helps to maintain brand consistency while still effectively creating depth and interest to the overall design. Keep in mind a balance that must be achieved in your overall design. Colors are just as important as font choice.
Art/Illustration: I applied the historic / modern concept to the main artwork, balancing out the ornate font by using bold diagonal lines and simple line art. Anything too detailed would compete with the font. The main art element (shield) is inspired by the family coat-of-arms concept, and is simple and bold as well. Overall, the artwork and fonts are working together, reading as one unit, instead of one overpowering another.
Grid Design: The first tap handle/label, Kolsch beer, is designed with all elements from the main company logo. Other labels will be designed using this grid template, changing colors in specific areas of the label to identify the type of beer. Because a grid has been established from the onset of this project, the brand could grow unencumbered. There is a method in place to continue to create a consistent visual identity, again reinforcing brand consistency.
The end result is a logo that is a balance of historical and modern design elements; it has the look and feel of traditional craft brewery designs, and is still visually powerful alongside national brands.
So now you have a plan of action to follow with the 4 design initiatives I mentioned above. But what about working with the client? Where do they fit in? How do you foster a great relationship while staying true to your design goals?
You’re working with an established set of parameters that your client needs to achieve. By listening to your client you are also saving time money, and essentially weeding out several design options you may have proposed if you didn’t listen to their concerns. If the trade off is making sure you use a font or art element they are envisioning, compromise. For example, with the CBC logo, I could have proposed an entirely different font style, but in the end if the client isn’t feeling it, then you aren’t doing what you are hired to do. Listen to their concerns and suggestions, and then use your expert skills to make them better.
You spend hours boiling down their company goals into several design options, but how did you get there? Designers are great visual communicators, but unless you could provide a synopsis, a few reasons behind your design decisions, you are missing an opportunity to show them that you are truly listening to them. Also, a client may not immediately ‘see’ what you are presenting, so sometimes you need to talk them through your decisions. Sure you are hired to provide a service, but you are also trying to build a relationship. The more you know about them, the more likely you are to meet their expectations. Perhaps you’ll be the go-to firm for other projects, all because you created an open line of communication, and built a solid relationship.
A client may not be thinking about their design goals five, or even ten years from now, especially start-up companies. But it is your job to ensure this logo, or any design project, will hold up over time in order to not recreate the wheel a few years down the road. The fact you were proactive shows the client you are invested in the project for the long-haul. You want to be the keeper of the brand, so do what you can to show the client you are thinking ahead, creating what is best for their company on a whole, not just the current project.
Cheers! – CG
Conyngham Brewing Company is holding a tasting event for their Kolsch beer at Cuz-n-Joe's, Thursday, August 1st, 6pm.
Stop by and sample some of this amazing beer. For more information click here to view CBC’s FB page.
As of 8/2016, this site is dedicated solely to graphic design.
For Christina Galbiati’s art/Illustration site click here.