Crafting the craft: illustrators use creative flair for beer

  • Marketing
  • January 26, 2016
  • Holly Bagge
Crafting the craft: illustrators use creative flair for beer
Credit: Toby Morris

Since the craft beer industry started booming over the past few years in New Zealand, we've seen some beautiful labels adorning supermarket shelves and bar taps. These labels are often less about trumpeting the brand and more about celebrating the distinctive personality of the beer, often expressed through creative illustrations and inventive names. We had a chat with The Wireless's Toby Morris about his experience illustrating for beer brands, and look into why illustration has become a popular promotional tool. 

Auckland-based illustrator and comic artist Toby Morris (creator of Pencilsword half of the duo Toby and Toby for The Wireless) has been illustrating for Choice Bros Brewery for about a year now, as well as doing bits and pieces for Good George Brewery, which he says falls "somewhere on the craft to mainstream spectrum”.

He says using illustration for something like craft beer just makes sense. 

"The whole idea of the craft thing is about returning to the hand made and small scale, to show a bit more of a human side of a product like beer," he says. 

He says he got involved when Kerry Gray, who runs Choice Bros, saw some gig posters Morris had illustrated and approached him about doing something for the brand with the same mentality in mind.

“And that’s really appealing for me as an illustrator. I mainly get people who see my more personal work or things that are a bit more out there and then they'll approach you about doing straighter work or more commercial work. But when you have someone approach you and get you to do something that’s a bit more personal and creative is very appealing to an illustrator.”

Source - http://cdn.gearpatrol.com

Source - http://www.leadinglabel.co.nz/products-gallery/craft-brewing/

He says he thinks it was Wellington-based brewery Garage Project that led the trend and he has friends who have illustrated for the brewery. “I think in New Zealand they definitely started that trend. It’s a pretty natural place for people to end up …,” he says.

Last year, we ran a story on Garage Project’s artistic branding and its innovative approach (in the craft beer market) of using cans, not generally associated with highbrow beer.

The brewery uses different artists to design labels for individual beers and has a huge variety of beautifully designed labels.

Here’s what Garage Project’s Ian Gillespie told us earlier:

“The whole thinking behind the branding was that we wanted the beers themselves to stand out,” Gillespie says. “We wanted each beer to have its own personality … We work hard for them to have names that evoke a bit of interest so people will want to read more about what’s in them and the thinking behind them and each artwork should speak to what that beer is, what it’s about and who might like it, and who won’t.”

“We find people align themselves to different beers and their artwork as opposed to our brand per se. Our logo is often smaller, down the bottom.”

He said the approach worked for the brand. “Obviously there is a bit of extra work involved in each artwork, as it’s not a question of just changing the colour from green to pink and putting porter on it and just releasing it,” he says. “We wouldn’t have it any other way, we like the way it’s worked and we are not locked into a branding style that is going to go out of date.”

Morris says there is also a sense of humour to craft beer branding. “The whole thing that people want out of it is that it’s not taking itself super seriously and it’s not mass-produced. The names are also unusual and try to get a bit of personality across there too.”

All of the Choice Bros beers are named after a song title or a lyric from a song, Morris says, which gives him something to work from when drawing. “It’s pretty much a combo of thinking about the style of beer – is it dark and wintery, or light and summery – and then listening to the song inspiration and then just seeing what comes out. They’ve been really good at leaving it really open to however I want to interpret each one, which is the most fun way to work for me.”

And does drinking the beer while working also inspire great ideas? We enquired.

“I sometimes crack a beer while working but usually I will enjoy it more after I’ve finished work for the day.”

Artist agency International Rescue executive producer Rob Finn says he has noticed an increase in demand for illustrators in craft beer branding but also in advertising in general.

“I have definitely noticed, whether it’s wine labels or beer bottles or whatever, a lot more people are using illustration for branding themselves completely.”

He says it’s the same with coffee brands, using illustrations for products (cups and packaging), rather than opting for simplicity.

Brands are also using photography differently, he says. “[Brands like] free, natural, atmospheric shots of food rather than anything overly retouched,” he says.

“Whether it’s cars or whatever, I think that’s because we have been through the age of polished high sheen advertising and now it’s all about the product being achievable to buy and being a bit more real and I think illustration can instantly get that across. Especially hand-drawn or painterly style which can get across a crafty sort of a feeling rather than a three-dimensional or CGI illustration.”

The big brands have been getting on board too. "You’ll see all of a sudden Coca-Cola will move into this big illustration piece rather than people on the beach throwing a ball around …”

Cost is also a factor, he says. “Especially as budgets started to get a bit tighter. Rather than paying for a shoot, your location with your model, with illustration you can come up with a brief of whatever world you want and it can be illustrated,” he says.

“You don’t need to pay for locations or talent so it’s much more creative in that respect.”

It's difficult to say whether some of the bigger beer brands should be following suit. Something tells us it might not quite transition in the same way if the brand is already well-established. We can hardly imagine Tui shedding its orange skin and we don't think its target market of stubby-donning, rugby loving Kiwi blokes would appreciate it either.

But one brand that's given it a go is Mac's. While one wouldn't previously have thought of the brewery as 'craft', it's certainly trying to brand itself as such after donning new packaging in March last year (courtesy of Dow design), and increasing its selection of beer and cider.

We spoke to Dave Pearce, Lion's category marketing director for wine, cider and craft about the revamp early last year. 

"We’ve added some stories on the bottles and packs that talk about our history and some of the unique things about Mac’s, like our unusual ribbed bottle and rip cap, and we’ve also added ‘Since 1981’ to our main logo," Pearce said. "We wanted to give each beer a bit more of its own personality, so we’ve added a distinctive icon for each one, which all tell a bit of the story behind that beer. For example Three Wolves is named after the three hops we use in this beer – the Latin word for hops translates as ‘wolf of the woods’, and there are two American hops and one New Zealand one, and so the wolves are ‘dressed’ to reflect that."

The new packaging also featured other elements such as medal tags and a flavour scale to help consumers choose according to their preferences.

The scale runs from one through seven, rating the beers from 'quenching' (beers that are crisp, clean, refreshing and lighter in flavour) to 'savouring' (beers that have more complex or intense flavours).

And with the craft beer industry booming in the country, it's no surprise Mac's decided to jump on those coat tails and push the more crafty aspects of its product.

According to a Stuff article from August last year, ANZ's 2015 industry insight showed the craft beer industry had grown forty percent within a year and that one third of New Zealand's 100 craft brewers were gearing up for expansion into offshore markets.

The report also showed the number of brewers had doubled in the past five years, intensifying domestic competition. Strong demand had increased growth for producers by 20 percent.

The article says in 2010 there were five craft breweries in Wellington, adding about $3 million to Wellington's economy. By 2013 there were 12 breweries in business, adding $12.3 million in economic benefit, nearly doubling to $22.3 million in 2014.

The article also says there are 111 craft breweries in New Zealand, off-premise retail sales were up 42 percent last year from 2014, they take up 13 percent of beer sales by value in New Zealand, are sold in 40 offshore markets and there are about 25 brewers exporting. About $2.7 million worth of craft beer was sold in Asia last year.

So, things are looking pretty good for craft beer. And while we can't put all the credit on the illustrative and colourful branding style, because craft beer is pretty tasty stuff, you've got to admit, they sure stand out.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

"Like a short film festival": Electric Kiwi's Andrew Cooper on taking creative in-house
news

"Like a short film festival": Electric Kiwi's Andrew Cooper on taking creative in-house

In the wake of Electric Kiwi reaching the 40,000 customers mark, we sit down with chief marketing officer, Andrew Cooper, to hear how the brand has evolved its marketing strategy by tightening up its target audience and tackling the creative in-house.

Up-and-Comers: Tom Davies, Special Group

  • Advertising
  • June 14, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Up-and-Comers: Tom Davies, Special Group

We've given the mic to the industry's future leaders. Tom Davies, a creative at Special Group, shares his thoughts on adland.

Read more

Gray matters: research, Gen Z and location

  • Voices
  • June 14, 2019
  • Graham Medcalf
Gray matters: research, Gen Z and location

Graham Medcalf takes a look at the week that was, covering accuracy in research, communicate to a socially-conscious younger market, and geo-marketing.

Read more
topics
Up-and-Comers
Up-and-Comers
We give the mic to the industry's future leaders to hear their thoughts on media, ...
Insight Creative
Insight Creative
Insight Creative specialises in shaping business stories out the core insights that often lie under ...
The Stoppies 2018
The Stoppies 2018
In February (Valentine's Day to be exact), StopPress gathered the industry for an evening of ...
Follow The Money
Follow The Money
Follow the money. It’s an axiom that journalists have believed in for years and a ...
Regional Rundown
Regional Rundown
StopPress takes a trip down the country to see who the audiences and agencies are ...
Beyond the Page 2018
Beyond the Page 2018
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Beneath the Surface
Beneath the Surface
In this series, brought to you by Microsoft, we talk to a conceptual photographer, illustrator ...
20/20 (tele)vision
20/20 (tele)vision
Media consumption is changing. But by how much?
The Hot List
The Hot List
Our rundown of the hottest shows, brands and creators in New Zealand media. 1. magazine ...
Cannes Lions 2017
Cannes Lions 2017
All the winners, the shortlists and the drama from this year's edition of advertising biggest ...
Merger Mania
Merger Mania
All our stories on the nation's two failed mergers in one place
Bauer Beyond the Page
Bauer Beyond the Page
When it comes to creating branded content, there are few better in the Kiwi market ...
The Indies
The Indies
Over the course of this series of articles, we look at how always-nimble indy agencies ...
AdRoll on automation
AdRoll on automation
Marketing automation is tipped to eventually become the only way advertising is traded in the ...
Game Changers
Game Changers
It’s all about PEOPLE. Join us as we discuss global insights, ideas and innovations from ...
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards 2015
Celebrating all the winners of the 2015 TVNZ-NZ Marketing Awards.
Future Tense
Future Tense
In a new series, StopPress talks to a range of newsmakers currently trying to shine ...
Beyond the Page
Beyond the Page
In conjunction with the MPA, the Beyond the Page series shows how some of the ...
Up Country
Up Country
In conjunction with News Works, the Up Country series talks with some of New Zealand's ...
Sounding off
Sounding off
As part of a content partnership with MediaWorks, we've asked a few of the company's ...
StopPress Podcasts
StopPress Podcasts
We sit down for a chat with industry leaders to find out what they're up ...
The State of Adlandia 2019 - part one
features

The State of Adlandia 2019 - part one

From driving business to delving into data, advertising agencies and clients have plenty on their plates as the new year begins. It can be a complex world out there with constant technological developments, the changing expectations of customers and the tension of creating effective campaigns. Georgina Harris spoke with agencies and clients to get a general overview of today’s landscape: what the latest challenges are, recent trends and what the community would like to see from 2019.

Public media funding policy back to square one?

  • Media
  • June 13, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Public media funding policy back to square one?
Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Labour came to power promising big boosts to public broadcasting but last week's Budget offered only stop-gap increases “pending major policy decisions.”

Read more
voices

A fight for democracy

  • Voices
  • June 13, 2019
  • Ben Rose
A fight for democracy

Ben Rose, general manager of newspapers at Stuff, reflects on discussions about the future journalism and business models for print at the World News Media Congress.

Read more

NZME hits first-year paywall target in just six weeks

  • Media
  • June 12, 2019
  • StopPress Team
NZME hits first-year paywall target in just six weeks

NZME's punt on the paywall appears to be paying off, with chief executive Michael Boggs saying New Zealanders have put a high value on the importance of quality journalism by backing NZ Herald's digital news subscription service – the paywall has reached 10,000 subscribers in just six weeks.

Read more

GroupM names Chris Riley NZ CEO

  • Movings/Shakings
  • June 12, 2019
  • StopPress Team
GroupM names Chris Riley NZ CEO

GroupM once again has a chief executive role in New Zealand, promoting former Wavemaker MD and GroupM chief operating officer Chris Riley into the position.

Read more

Movings/Shakings: 11 June

  • Movings/Shakings, brought to you by Marsden Inch
  • June 11, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Movings/Shakings: 11 June

Industry happenings at Chimney Group, Pead PR and Sweetshop.

Read more
Uno Loco rediscovers the power of human connection
Sponsored content

Uno Loco rediscovers the power of human connection

The global spend on digital marketing breaks new records every year and it has become hard to imagine any medium that might challenge this growth, writes Blair Glubb, chief executive and co-owner of event specialists, Uno Loco. So, imagine his surprise upon joining the event marketing industry and discovering that real life experiences are making a comeback. That old thing we just used to call life, is now a marketing trend, and it’s booming.

Ads of the Week: 11 June

  • TVC of the Week
  • June 11, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Ads of the Week: 11 June

A round of applause to Meridian, Lotto NZ and Ford.

Read more

Up-and-comers: Jae Woo Park, Saatchi & Saatchi

  • Advertising
  • June 11, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Up-and-comers: Jae Woo Park, Saatchi & Saatchi

We've given the mic to the industry's future leaders. Jae Woo Park, a digital designer at Saatchi & Saatchi, shares his thoughts on ad land.

Read more

Taming the HiPPO

  • Voices
  • June 11, 2019
  • Steven Giannoulis
Taming the HiPPO

OK, so I’ve put on a bit of weight lately but I still took exception to the recent description of me as a Hippo. Turns out they were right – I have been throwing a bit too much weight around when it comes to generating ideas. So I’ve put myself on a tight leash and I’m learning to tame my natural instincts.

Read more

Jon Bird named VMLY&R regional CEO for Australia and New Zealand

  • Advertising
  • June 10, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Jon Bird named VMLY&R regional CEO for Australia and New Zealand

WPP AUNZ has announced that VMLY&R global commerce leader Jon Bird will relocate back to Australia from New York to take up the role of regional chief executive officer of VMLY&R Australia and New Zealand, commencing early July.

Read more

Meridian harnesses the elements in new brand platform

  • Advertising
  • June 7, 2019
  • StopPress Team
Meridian harnesses the elements in new brand platform

Meridian has launched a new brand platform that celebrates how Kiwis will go to great lengths to keep New Zealand clean and beautiful.

Read more
Next page
Results for
Topics
Jobs
About

StopPress provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2019 ICG Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

Advertise

Contact Vernene Medcalf at +64 21 628 200 to advertise in StopPress.

View Media Kit