In a hot market, branding matters. In a slow market, branding matters. While product quality should always be the top criterion for assessing product worth, there's no doubt that beautiful branding is a strong contributing factor to public perception of that worth.
Labels are a "front door" to product branding, on display at the recent Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO, USA. The festival showcased award-winning craft beer tastes along with good looks.
Despite the indisputable importance of good-looking labels to product "curb appeal," manufacturers don't always prioritize their development. Well-thought-out, informative and creatively designed labels are a power-fill sales and retention tool--first to get somebody to try, then to get them to continue to buy.
In contrast, overly-cluttered, poorly designed and shoddily printed labels, coupled with inadequate content quality control--right down to typos and ingredient inaccuracies--ultimately portray the product in a bad light.
This is true regardless of market conditions. Even in good times, craft beer branding is a hot topic. Last year, Foodandwine.com magazine talked about the importance of branding in a booming craft beer market:"With the craft-beer market showing no signs of slowing down and shelf space at a premium across nearly every aisle, there's no denying how important graphic design is these days. Compelling packaging is so crucial to a brewery's growth, in fact, that the industry's old and new guard seem to be in a steady race of rebranding themselves."
This year, craft beer sales have dropped. According to theknow.denver-post.com, "...craft beer's 3.9% growth is the lowest in a decade--especially since, not long ago, the market was seeing growth rates of up to 18% a year. In an environment where even great taste can't single-handedly save the day, compelling and memorable branding can be a major differentiator.
An article by 99designs.com underscores the importance of great-looking labels: "Don't be coy, you can just say it. Your beer is better than the name brands! Now, it's time to take your passion to the next level... but convincing strangers to try your brand is a lot harder than convincing your friends and family. You're going to need powerful beer labels. But what does that mean for you, the small-time brewer with lots of heart and an even heartier beer? It means there's no point in waiting to realize your big-brewery dreams. The problem with most small-scale...