In 2012 I co-founded Beerbliotek, a Craft Brewery in Gothenburg, with three friends. My dream was never to brew beer or own a brewery, but to build a brand. And to build that brand together with some of my best friends.
Below you can read the story of our brand journey and my role as Brand- & Marketing Manager…
Hand Crafted Beer. Hand Crafted Label.
Right off the bat, we wanted the brand to have a feeling of craftsmanship. Hand crafted if you will. The brewery was situated down by the river in Gothenburg, close to the Älvsborgs Bridge.
I illustrated the bridge by hand. A rough drawing to reflect the handcrafted-ness of the brewery, where we did the brewing by hand, the bottling by hand and the labelling by hand.
The first labels had the illustration on, and each style of beer was represented by a different colour. Pale Ales were light blue. IPAs green. Saison was yellow, etc.
B E E R B L I O T E K
The word Beerbliotek is derived from the Latin word bibliotheca, or even the Swedish word Bibliotek, which means Library, a collection of books. This would then mean that a Beerbliotek is collection of beer.
As with books, there are some books that you won’t read again, but some which you will take out again. In the same way there are beers we won’t brew again, and some which we will, and have.
The logo I designed reflected the B from Beerbliotek, alongside the falling books behind the B. It has been used mainly in black when only referring to the Beerbliotek Brand, but in a multitude of colours when associated with beer styles on labels.
The Craft Beer market in Sweden was expanding rapidly in Gothenburg where we are based. That posed a challenge for us when we decided what beer we were going to launch our brewery with.
The decision came one night after discussing which type of brewery we would like to be. A little cocky, challenging the norms and having fun at the same time as what we wanted to be taken seriously. So it was decided that beer number one was going to be a Black Ale with Chilli 🙂
Co-Owner, Brand- & Marketing Manager.
In businesses it is important that each employee has a place where they feel at home, where they can do their best work. As I mentioned, although I can brew beer, it was never a dream of mine, and I spend very little time in the brewery with production.
My role is taking care of the brand, marketing and all the design. As a qualified Graphic Designer, I get to do my dream job.
Change is inevitable.
The rapid expansion the Craft Beer industry in Sweden and globally means change is inevitable as one grows. In year two we doubled capacity, Year three we opened a second, much bigger brewery and have grown more than six fold in four years.
Along with brewing more than 130 different beers in four years and exporting to more than fifteen countries, the brand needed to change, in order to reflect the growth. The old labels also did not manage to contain more than 130 different names and styles, without them starting to look too similar.
When we moved to the new brewery, I revamped the brand platform, in order to be more modern, and although we still do a lot by hand, the brewing process and packaging process is more automated.
Sticking to the concept of colours representing different styles of beer, I created a colour spectrum in order to give us a larger playing field of colour. The spectrum moves left to right though the entire colour spectrum. Up and down it changes from light to dark, also representing different styles of beer. Stouts and Porters being dark, while Lagers and Pale Ales are lighter in colour.
The profile can also repeat endlessly left to right, which allows for the pattern to be used when striping vehicles, room interiors or products.
Finding a Home.
Each beer style has its own colour. The new pattern allowed me to find a home for each beer. There’s now a multitude of blues to choose from for Pale Ales, lots of greens for IPAs and darker purples for Black IPAs. Each beer has two diamond shapes allocated to it, in the pattern, on the label and on all design representing that specific beer.
The growth we experienced as a brewery even affected our packaging options. Bottling is always the choice for breweries starting out, because it is a cheaper option than buying a canning line. As a brewery we made a strategic decision to also invest in a canning line, as aluminium cans are better for the environment with regards to transport and recycling compared to glass bottles. Today we have both options, but can a lot more of our beer.
This change also affected the label design as there’s more space, and specifically because cans are stackable, which bottles are not. A lot of the photos of cans in the market are of stacked cans, so the designs needed to suit that eventuality, where a lot of different cans from different producers are represented in the same photo. Our design needed to stand out.
A Balancing Act.
In my life as a designer, brand manager and strategist, time is not my best friend 🙂 It’s a constant balancing act of doing that which is most important and always finding ways to save time and improve my processes. Managing the Beerbliotek brand half my time is matched up with running my own consultancy where I help other brands.
You can watch my YouTube video called “Build a brand online… when you don’t have the time“.
Lower budgets also encourages one to think outside the box, to come up with innovative ways to do the same thing, but in a different, more cost effective way.
One of the ways I have saved a lot of time is working with 3D/CGI.
I’ve been fortunate to have friends who understand 3D & CGI. Taking photographs of all our products have always taken me a lot of my time. Setup, shooting, touch up, etc. Add to that the fact that we have brewed a new beer every nine days, it’s a lot of work and a lot of time.
That’s why I knocked on the door of my friends at Vintr, who created all of my packaging options in 3D. That means I never have to take another packshot photograph again. I just have to open a Photoshop file, select the product type, add the updated label and save all the file types I require. It saves a lot of time.
Yes the initial investment is big, but the savings over time, matched to the endless possibilities for imagery by far outweighs the initial investment. Get in touch with them if you think 3d/CGI is for you.
Our new brand profile is adaptable to a multitude of applications, merchandise, stationery and product options. The challenge with creating so many different beers has always been to make them look distinctive, yet have them all fit into the same brand.
To be Continued…
Our journey as a Craft Brewery is still in its infancy, yet it feels as if we have been going for longer, built on the fact that at the beginning of 2017 we created over 160 different beers. That is over 160 different labels, with different designs. Over 160 different marketing plans per beer and over 160 different experiences from the consumers.
It’s been an exciting journey so far, and one I am relishing as the Brand- and Marketing Manager, who gets to work with my some of my best friends, who are very talented brewers indeed.