Picture with me if you will: you turn the corner at your favorite liquor store and face a wall full of local craft brew. Label after label vies for your attention and you reach for a particularly shiny bottle with a simplistic color scheme. This decision is one that modern craft beer consumers must make over and over again. Choosing the ideal color scheme is essential in order to compete with more than 8000 other craft breweries that exist today.
Surprisingly, there is a very pointed approach to choosing a color scheme that will lead to a spot in the consumer’s hand. Once your craft has been selected, the taste of the beer takes over, but for now, let's explore how to catch the eye of a passer-by.
If you are reading this article, the chances are you are all grown up. Yet some things don’t pass with age, and one of those things is the allure of a shiny object. The signature metallic top and bottom of a can with a pressure-sensitive label has become a mainstay, largely because of this very reason.
It turns out that the reason for this desire is actually linked to our evolutionary roots. In a recent study by researchers based out of the University of Houston, it was found that there tend to be two core desires that drive our appeal to glossy objects. One is a learned trait, the link between shiny and luxury. The other is an inherent trait and has to do with the reflective nature of water. The study revealed that those who saw a glossy image were more inclined to reference water in a landscape image, and more thirsty participants especially coveted glossed objects.
Why does this matter to you as a brewer? Well, linking your craft to quenching thirst might be all it takes to draw in a potential customer.
Despite the appeal of a nice cold beer on a sunny day, the desire for craft goes beyond just quenching thirst. The modern craft consumer expects an experience when they buy one of your products. Some of my personal favorite brews have a rich smooth undertone and introduce me to the flavors one by one. I’ll stop there due to the risk of sounding like a trite connoisseur, but you get the point: craft beer is all about flavor.
The colors on your can or bottle should complement and introduce this flavor to your potential customers. That is why there has been a large movement towards warm and rustic color schemes. These colors invoke a sense of comfort in a prospective buyer and ensure that the product they purchase will deliver a similarly comforting taste. If your brand relies on these smooth flavors it is worth considering introducing warm colors--like a dark orange or a deep red--on your label art.
Let’s travel back to the wall full of brews. The first decision a buyer makes is largely influenced by what stands out the most. Thus enters the word that craft brewers know like the back of their hand, contrast. The pursuit of differentiation is what drives popping art and, similarly, all-white labels.
Bright colors are the equivalent to a slight yell in a crowded room. Many breweries opt for these flashy colors for this exact reason. When buyers are confronted with multiple colors all at once it is often overwhelming but in a fireworks-on-a-dark-night kind of way. This sounds quite appealing but can also be a risk due to the feeling that some customers might think you are compensating for a lack of flavor if you go for an overly eccentric label theme.
No color is often just as stark as a can full of color. Brands are beginning to catch on to this idea by introducing minimalist labels. These labels are often just a white or black background with a subtle logo or slight image that introduces the creator of the beer. The initial shock of an overly minimalist beer is useful, but it is also used as a way of informing customers that a brand is confident enough in their taste that they don’t have to exaggerate the label. Brands can still run the risk here of being considered lazy for producing little color.
Overall contrast is a powerful tool and will be used for years to come as a way of calling out to bright-eyed beer drinkers.
Crafting your Persona
At the end of the day, the colors that you choose should be a reflection of your brand. As a brewery, you tend to draw in a specific persona to your drink. In order to choose a proper color scheme, first, consider who you want to drink your beer. If you are looking for slow sipping regulars, then it is worth considering a warm color. If young and adventurous is more your crowd, then add colors that shine and attract a vibrant fanbase.
The world of craft is only getting bigger so consider using color to grow the brand that you have worked so hard to build.