Tone doesn’t always come across correctly in writing so let me say from the very first sentence that this post is not meant to be argumentative or critical in any way. It is simply a debate about creative design and an explanation for our branding choices at Frothy Beard Brewing Company.
I am a partner in Frothy Beard Brewing and the owner of Push Digital, a 45 person marketing agency physically connected to Frothy Beard. I personally oversee all Frothy Beard creative and marketing. Beer and brewery branding is something I’m very passionate about.
A couple weeks ago an article was published in the Charleston Post and Courier discussing craft brewery can art in the Charleston, SC brewing community. Then, I sent out a few tweets with my thoughts about can art. This week Schmoll Creative launched their second annual “Battle of the Brewery Brands” in which they discussed the topic again.
Schmoll kindly sent us to the second round, beating out Palmetto Brewing. Thank you, Schmoll! We deeply appreciate the compliments.
About our can design, Schmoll wrote, “local artist Tami Boyce draws the adorable illustrations that can be found on Frothy’s branding and marketing materials, giving the brewery a recognizable and truely unique look. The cans use the main Frothy-man face over a printed background on the front and single-color beer-specific illustration on the back. Although we appreciate the consistency, we feel Frothy is missing an opportunity to use Tami’s more elaborate drawings and scenes for a little extra fun.”
We agree about Tami. She’s AMAZING. When I’m feeling down at work, I will simply step into the tap room and just look at her posters. They put positive vibes in my heart. Please go check her out here.
Despite my love for Tami, there is a reason we don’t use her art for our cans. It’s the same reason I haven’t asked her to paint a big mural on the front of the building. Instead we have this…
We have about .5 seconds to catch someone’s attention when he or she drives by Frothy on Sam Rittenberg Blvd at 45 MPH. They need to see the big branding. That’s it. That’s all they have time to see. They aren’t going to stop and stare at the mural like they are visiting Mona Lisa at the Louvre. Art has someone’s full attention. Marketing rarely does.
The same goes for cans on a shelf. However, in this case, the cans are surrounded by other cans. Not only does the branding have to stand out when someone is quickly walking by a shelf, but it also must stand about among a lot of other branding that’s also on that shelf when someone is standing 10 feet away.
I love a lot of other breweries in Charleston, but my favorite can art is from Coast and Revelry. The designs are both fun and beautiful. However, you can’t even see the companys’ branding unless you are actually staring at that individual can. Perhaps that’s what someone does when they are actually drinking from the can, but that’s not normal consumer behavior when they are in a grocery store trying to make a quick choice.
Consumers engage in little, if any, deliberation as they stroll through the grocery store. Studies have shown that “consumers can make decisions in as little as a third of a second.” These decisions are primarily based on the products that grab a consumer’s attention and incorporate everything from product color to product placement.
It’s all about attention and in this case, the attention goes to the branding that pops the loudest. SIMPLE and BOLD works best on a shelf. Pretty, detailed art does not. By the way, this is my same theory about tap handles. While I disagree with Revelry’s choice about can design, I totally agree with their tap handle choice because the red bugle stands out better than almost any tap handle in the Charleston market.
I totally agree with Schmoll that our cans aren’t the prettiest and that Tami could absolutely crush pretty can design like she did our barrel aged Mermaid’s Milk bottle design (limited edition and didn’t go on shelves). However, I don’t want pretty. I want our cans to pop off a shelf and for someone to see our logo and name. That’s what’s most important in this specific instance.
I often have to remind my design team (primarily working on digital content) that they have to look through the eyes of the consumer. They are designing images on a big screen and taking a lot of time to work on the details. They’re artists. That’s what artists do. It’s about detail. However, consumers are looking at those images on a mobile device while doing 100 other things like driving a car while their kids are screaming and that art is surrounded by a bunch of other art.
You have to design knowing exactly HOW someone will be consuming your art, whether you’re designing social images, posters, tap handles or beer cans.