Moustache Brewing, a leader in the craft scene on Long Island, approached me to write labels for half a dozen of their new can designs. With fierce competition on the shelves of local distributors, the short descriptions on the cans played a big part in setting the brand apart and attracting new customers. We decided to try to find an emotional component for each beer, rather than just a taste profile.
The labels were never produced because the brewery underwent a large renovation and the project was tabled indefinitely. The beers continue to have the same labels today that they had before we started.
Which is super frustrating, to be sure, because I was proud of what we had come up with and I think they would have worked really well. But the reality, especially for small craft breweries, is that the owners typically do everything: brew the beer, can and bottle the beer, tend the tasting room, handle sales accounts and outside vendor contracts, deliver the beer, clean the equipment, fix the equipment, deal with freelance copywriters, and, every once in a while, get to sleep for a bit.
Trust the consumer. Craft beer fans are loyal and knowledgeable and curious. They know what they like, but they also step outside their comfort zones to try something new and different. We were able to work on labels that would connect emotionally when most of the industry still uses the label to convey flavor profiles -- because we knew craft drinkers 1) already know enough about beer that they didn’t need much info from us and 2) are looking for an experience beyond just taste. They appreciate the work that goes into a beer and the feeling a beer is meant to evoke, not just the taste in the glass.
It’s a craft, after all.
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