Sunday, 25 April 2010


Some time ago I posed the question about what I should call my new brewery. As it happens we've been unable to find a brand name that I like better than Hardknott. Couple that with the fact that this name is already recognised it would seem that it will continue to be the name we will use.

Despite this we recognise the need for brand identity that will engage the drinker. As we intend to explore both the local cask market and the wider specialist bottled market the image we produce should be sympathetic to this broad audience. We are working with people to achieve some imagery that will hopefully manage to do this.

Dredgy has a post about bottle labels. I suspect I will go back to the comments on this post several times as we progress down the road of brand design. What I find interesting more than anything is that there is always some disagreement about what constitutes good or bad design. There is a wide range of branding from the ultra-traditional right through to the edgy in-your-face style of the more progressive people. All gain both praise and criticism from various quarters.

This puts me into a bit of a problem, and one that I believe stifles many small breweries. The problem is one of putting the brand image into the hands of somebody else who might not really understand the image that is being portrayed. How much to insist that a designer, who in turn assures that he knows what he is doing, should jolly well listen to what you are trying to tell him you want.

This does result in too many breweries designing their own pump clips, with various degrees of success. The worst designs make their way onto Pump Clip Parade, where Jeff Pickthall makes a concerted effort to shame offenders into reconsidering their style. Having said that, when the beer sells perfectly well without professional input into the process then there can often be a demand to consider more stainless steel by way of investment rather then being concerned about generating a market that can't be supplied anyway.

We have grasped the nettle and have engaged a small studio to come up with some imagery that will eventually translate into a logo, bottle labels and pump clips. The first iteration was promising and the following conversations encouraging. Let's hope that the second iteration, due to me early in the week, will fire up my imagination; after-all, my first new beer is in the fermenter as we speak and it'll need a new pump clip ready for it's launch at some new outlets.

Despite my continuing concern about the ability of global resources to match our desire for a growing economy; for my modest brewery to be viable I do need to generate new markets so that I can make a little bit more money to enable me to buy some more stainless steel. So far, things are more-or-less going to plan.


MicMac said...

I think you're going about this the right way Dave, when I had my own brewery (don't ask!) I did something similar - approached a local designer whose work a clever mate had pointed out to me, I talked to him about what I was trying to do & responded to the ideas he came up with, I was pretty pleased with the results.

I felt I got the best results when I was quite clear with the designer about what I didn't like & why, & while their expertise is great, remember, you're paying the bills, so make sure you get what you want.

I watch with interest :~)

(weirdly I'm also currently watching Mastermind & Hardknott appeared in a question! - & I think you made the right decision about the name too)

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

Comic Sans across the board, baby.

How was the BBQ? Lots of American steak sauce by any chance?

Mark, said...

If you're getting a designer in Dave, the most vital aspect of the process is briefing them. That doesn't mean telling them simply what you do and don't want, it's telling them what you want the branding to achieve and what you want them to do e.g. do you want a concept creating or simply the picture in your head fulfilling on paper/screen.

If you have a vision in your head, you're best off telling them that from the offset and explaining that the skills you need are in production and making it look good.

If you need a concept however, you need to let them have a certain degree of control. If their worth their salt and they're on your wavelength they'll be able to be objective about it and come up with some 'solutions' that fit the bill.

BeerReviewsAndy said...

Nice one dave! like Mark says make sure you portray your visions to the designer..the end result should end up being way better that way.

Good luck with it and i look forward to seeing the new stuff soon!

Velky Al said...

One thing to make sure of Dave is that the designer gives you psd copies of the artwork you settle on, so when it comes to getting your web site built it makes life easier for the web designer.

BUL 180 - I guess I have been in the South long enough now to immediately think, Brits don't do barbecue, they grill (is breakfast time too early for a pulled pork sandwich and South Carolina style barbecue sauce?)/

Cooking Lager said...

It's great to hear the business is tickety boo.

So long as you know the business isn't brewing or even logo design. The business is sales. Every other function is a support function.

Washy said...

I'm glad you are sticking with the name "Hardknott". As for labels I would personally avoid cartoons of cute sheep getting rained on and cars getting stuck on the hairpins. ;-)

Mark said...

Nice one. I like the initial look. We're going through a re-brand at work so I look forward to seeing all the developments.

In terms of looking at cask markets and bottle markets, have you thought about different designs/feels for the two? ONe which suits pump clips and another which better suits smart bottles?

StringersBeer said...

I think it's a good name. You were never actually up on Hardknott even at the Woolpack and no-one complained to trading standards then. Make sure you get plenty mountain and lake imagery, oh and lots of gold foil... and sheep. So you can really stand out...

To be serious - even if Mr Lager is right and "sales" is what it's about (or marketing perhaps?) we should remember what the man said: "The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made." So making it look like it's about the beer - keeping it simple and wearing its "design" lightly - has always seemed a good idea to me. Sadly, I'm crap at design, marketing, and for that matter, sales. But all the S&M types, and many of the designers I've worked with, were such t*ssers that I'll never have anything to do with their kind again. And of course, the beer is important - otherwise you're just shopping for turd polish

Speaking of trading standards - they'll be happy to look at your POS and labels in the design stage you know. You get free advice on hefting your regulatory burden.

Eddie86 said...

Glad to hear the business is going forward Dave

Barm said...

Often it isn't a question of good or bad design, but a question of good or poor execution of a good idea, or even of a terrible idea. Sometimes it's what's appropriate or attractive to the people you are trying to market your beer to. Look at the Scottish barrel aged beers. Paradox is brash and friendly and shares the BrewDog look; it says if you like the other BrewDogs, try me! Innis & Gunn has a lot of very traditional beer label furniture, engraved lettering and stuff, aimed at a more conservative consumer. Ola Dubh, on the other hand, takes its typographic language from the stark, austere labels of single malts such as Laphroaig. Three very different approaches.

Jeffrey said...

Today I'm due to put on a beer from the Wyre Piddle brewery that has such a bad pumpclip (I didn't see it before I ordered the beer) that I'm considering not using it at all.

Most of the truly *micro*breweries seem to get this wrong. Partly I think it's because such small ventures seem to be labours of love as opposed to being run as true businesses, and the brewers don't want to listen to advice as they feel to close to the product. It's a shame, because if they'd just swallow their pride they'd be able to sell their beer in mainstream pubs and in Waitrose, as opposed to ticker's boozers and specialist off licences.

StringersBeer said...

It's just possible that some of those "*micro*breweries" don't give a flying whatever for "mainstream pubs and Waitrose" and the prices they pay.

FWIW, Wyre Piddle (who have some of the most groan-inducing names and POS) have been going since 1992, have expanded twice and (I read) supply a couple of hundred outlets. So while their piddling jokes may offend your (and my) sensibilities, I don't think you should take this as evidence that they don't know their own business.