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Elmwood brews up new ID for London Beer Lab

As London Beer Lab establishes itself as a new challenger brand in the craft beer sector, global brand design consultancy, Elmwood, has created an innovative label identity for the open-source brewery.

The Brixton based brewery, known for its beer-making workshops, needed a label identity that could support their expansion plan to sell the product in local craft beer shops and public houses rather than exclusively in the brewery.

Run by Karl Durand-O'Connor and Bruno Alajouanine the London Beer Lab design needed to reflect the founders’ proud history of sharing recipes as an open source brewery, and making the often-lofty craft beer world more accessible.

It was also essential that the design adapted easily to small batch brewing for customers who create bespoke recipes in workshops, ranging from pale ale, to smoked wheat beer.

The creative was founded on the recognition that London Beer Lab successfully marries two distinct points of view: craft and curiosity. This unique combination sees the invitation to meddle with malts and consistently discover new things, juxtaposed with world-class expertise that ensures brews are a success.

To bring this brand ethos to life on a label, Elmwood split the design space into two conceptual areas. Representing craft with an enlarged logo and key brand messages, the top half of the label stays consistent to ensure a recognisable brand identify regardless of brew.  The bottom half represents curiosity and can be adapted for each beer made, including the opportunity to write notes by hand.

Elmwood also helped to evolve the existing brand marque, keeping the original flask to represent the handmade element of the product. However, a more modern version was developed to sit alongside two new fonts that look hand-drawn to really drive home the craft message.

Undeniably Elmwood’s most innovative part of the design isn’t in the label’s aesthetic, but rather the fact that it is removable. Held to the bottle with only a rubber band, the label can be pulled off to reveal tasting notes and space for consumers to improve the formula on the reverse.

Peter Aldous, creative service director, Elmwood says: “A wonderfully broad creative scope gave us a platform to challenge industry norms – from writable varnish through to securing the labels with elastic bands, the potential solutions were largely unrestricted!

“The most effective detail was the use of cutting edge digital printing. Creating one die, and printing multiple variants on one sheet gave the cost base to achieve not only vibrant colours, but at the required efficiency.”

Karl Durand-O'Connor, co-founder of London Beer Lab, adds: “We had the good fortune to have a designer from Elmwood visit us for a workshop in our Brixton Railway arch during our early days, which is how we learned about their expertise.

“Without an artistic bone in our bodies, even we acknowledged our branding and labels were not fit for purpose when it came to launching beers commercially. It was a godsend to have Elmwood create a design that strikes a cord with both of us and encapsulates so much of what was discussed in our very first meeting.

“The execution has been flawless and we have been incredibly fortunate to be able to work with such a group of talented individuals.”

Elmwood brand design consultancy has studios in Leeds, London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and Melbourne, and offers specialist services in sustainability consulting, industrial design and environmental design.

29 February 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor