Craft Beer Packaging: The Dark Market
Design collective Brown&co was chosen to create the new design for Turkish beer brand EFES—in less than eight weeks.
Real beer, real friendship and real Turkey. That was the takeaway for Brown&co – The Brand Collective, spearheaded by Dave Brown and Troy Wade, both formerly of Brand Union, alongside David (Bic) Bicknell, co-founder of Tin Horse and Echo Brand Design.
Brown&co (brownandco.co) won the job to create a parent identity for EFES, and then considered how it might be applied across the entire product portfolio of more than 40 SKUs, providing brand cohesion, while still making it easy for consumers to navigate the beer range. EFES wanted to own the color blue as a key equity in the market and needed to be reshaped from a much-loved Turkish brand into a timeless beer icon. And the agency collective had just eight weeks to deliver on the design, artwork and print.
EFES is an authentic Turkish beer that has been bringing people together since 1969. Competitors aim for global brands with multi-national appeal, whereas EFES likes to keep things local.
Although based in the U.K., Brown&co’s virtual collaborative model meant they could manage a team of specialists for EFES from all over the world, the main criteria being best of breed in beer.
Brown&co had to be receptive to a local ‘dark market’ environment as alcohol couldn’t be advertised per se in Turkey. So, the pack became a 24/7 on-air advertising opportunity. The key objective was to reverse the decline of the brand and deliver sustainable growth—which is now being achieved through the power of strategic design and identity.
Rebranding a Local Favorite
The new brand story was the work of the internal marketing team and external consultants looking at a distinctive positioning and purpose that would resonate best with the Turkish consumer. The idea of enjoying genuine good times with friends is an emotional truth that appeals to the core male target market.
The first step was to define the core visual equities and build a case for opportunities that would support the new positioning. It was clear that an evolutionary response would not deliver the level of growth required to turn around the fortunes of the brand, which was in decline. A bold step change was required. A qualitative test using six packaging concepts with Turkish consumers against the new brand story and positioning was used to learn what the non-negotiables may be.
“We then quickly agreed on a design route that would deliver a House of EFES blue presence on shelf. We created a strong brand architecture that would facilitate on-shelf navigation whereby each variant had clearly defined intrinsic benefits. In Turkey, the pack has to work so much harder to communicate the functional aspects of the product,” Brown commented.
Two contrasting blues form the core of the new emblem (or ‘cartouche’) which was influenced by a historic label design from the late 1990s. Quality golden hops and barley form a crest, which envelopes the new Stein Star icon symbolic of friendship and people coming together since 1969. The core color palette was retained but a new die-cut label added a premium look to the overall feel of the label. The subtle Turkish mosaic pattern brings an authentic sense of taste to the identity.
The bottle labels are all metallized substrate using a combination of varnishes to reflect different tonal and textural effects. The agency collaborated with the printers on every print run in Turkey. The cans were carefully designed to work in six- and eight-color versions given printing parameters and restrictions.
Bottles are sized at 33cl and 50cl in returnable and non-returnable formats. Within the range is the iconic ‘tombul,’ or stein bottle. Cans are sized in 25cl, 33cl & 50cl formats. The line also carries draft towers (countermounts for all variants).
“We were with the client team every step of the way—a critical prerequisite to ensuring QC throughout the project,” Brown explained.
The design firm adopted a Back to the Future approach to bring quality, craft, authenticity and soul back to the brand. The brand story and positioning was developed internally and delivers three simple principles:
- Real quality beer, crafted with years of brewing expertise brewed using only the finest Anatolian ingredients (the provenance story)
- Brewed to bring real friends together (friendship & bonding)
- Brewed to appeal to Turkish market’s tastes.
EFES beer varieties include pilsner, malt, Xtra and pastörsüz (unpasteurized). The final solution hit shelves post-launch last summer. They must have done it right: Brown&co was awarded Brand of the Year by the World Branding Forum, at World Branding Awards in London for the creative design.
Craft beer is a category that is ever changing. To stay ahead of the curve, keep up with trends. According to OrchestratedBEER (orchestratedbeer.com), trends to follow include local beer styles; brewers giving back to the community/charities; session (low alcohol content) beer growth; a move toward more canning; collaborations (such as breweries creating a special brew for a pro sports team); and sour and fruit beers.
In a World of Options, Design Means Everything
According to Nielsen’s “Craft Beer Category Design Audit,” 70 percent of American craft beer consumers make their purchase decisions at the store shelf. And, 66 percent of consumers say that a beer’s packaging and label is “very” or “extremely” important for getting them to notice it.
Ardagh Group, Glass - North America Division (ardaghgroup.com/glass) is banking on those stats. The company is a producer of glass containers for the food and beverage industries in the U.S. and a leading supplier to the beer market.
Recently, Ardagh debuted two 375ml Belgian beer bottles. The new Belgian Crown and Belgian Cork bottles complement Ardagh Group’s existing larger 750ml Belgian Crown and 750ml Belgian Cork.
The amber bottles were developed by Ardagh Group as the result of a bottle design contest conducted at the 2017 Craft Brewers Conference in Washington, D.C., last April.
“Ardagh Group is proud to offer craft brewers the unique 375ml bottle design for packaging their craft beer,” said Alex Robertson, chief commercial officer for Ardagh Group, Glass - North American Glass division. “This classy bottle design will truly stand out on store shelves, offering brewers the brand differentiation they desire.”
Several craft brewers use Ardagh Group’s existing 750ml Belgian Crown and 750ml Belgian Cork bottles. Breweries can now purchase an American-made, high-quality 375ml Belgian bottle from Ardagh Group.
The rising popularity of sour beers and high-gravity beers are a key focus for breweries looking to target new customers in the marketplace. Many breweries are packaging these craft beer styles in 375ml Belgian bottles, as they offer great shelf appeal and premium packaging for these special brews,” Robertson said.
The two bottles are now available on Ardagh Group’s BOB for beer site, Beer.BuyOurBottles.com. The site portfolio includes 12 beer bottle styles, all manufactured in the U.S. out of amber and flint glass that is 100 percent recyclable.