Craft beers ‘all look the same’

Very few products have branding that stands out from the noise and clutter that characterises the craft beer category, says Matthew Remphrey, managing director of design agency Parallax.

Remphrey, who worked on the branding of Vale Ale, told delegates at the Craft Brewers Conference that differentiation is important in a category where a product, such as a pale ale, is very easily substitutable.

“Every category has a look. Banks all sort of look the same, because they want to look like a bank,” he said.

“Wine companies all want to look the same, because they want to look like a wine company, it’s no different with beer,” he said.

Only two of these brands really stand out on the shelf: Matthew Remphrey

Remphrey said that only two breweries stand out from the above array of brands: Balter and Pirate Life.

“I would argue there’s not a lot of differentiation in there, it’s a very noisy and loud and cluttered looking market,” he said.

“Brand is the differentiator… It’s the story that you’re putting out there because you can always substitute one for the other.

“That can be a visual thing, but it can be a whole lot of other things in terms of your business model and the way you get to your customers as well.”

Remphrey said Balter really stood out visually when the brand was launched last year.

“It was just like a clean sheet of paper,” he said.

“If everyone’s shouting, one way of not standing out is by not saying anything. The opposite goes, if everyone’s being very quiet and subdued, sometimes the way to stand out is to shout.”

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