Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Dad dancing

This week, Marston’s have announced a major revamp of their beer branding, as shown in the picture above. However, the initial impression is that they’re trying a little too hard to appear trendy and ape craft beer styling, and it comes across as something of a misstep. There’s always a risk that customers will be confused if the packaging fails to reflect the contents, and someone described it on Twitter as “a traditional brewer trying a bit of dad dancing”. Compare the designs with the distinctive, smart Pedigree label shown below, which in itself was the result of a subtle tweak only last year.

Renaming the classic Burton Bitter as “Saddle Tank” comes across as an error of judgment which will only serve to confuse customers, and opens itself up to the inevitable rather unfortunate rhyme. I’d also say as pumpclips, as opposed to bottle labels, they’re too dark.

I was interested to read an article on how to design packaging to appeal to older consumers, which made the following points:

They prefer traditional tastes to 'experimental' ones. This extends beyond the product to the packaging, which they want to look and feel traditional, rather than appear overly radical or be 'different for different sake'.

They prefer products and packaging that are subtle: ones that are ageless but appeal indirectly to their demographic, rather than those that appear directly targeted at them because of their age.

And it’s important to remember that half the adult consumers in this country are over the age of 50.

Obviously packaging does need to change with the times, but if your intention is to stress tradition and continuity it’s important to do it in a subtle way that respects what has gone before. Otherwise the risk is that it comes across like go-faster stripes painted on a Honda Jazz. You only need to look at malt whisky labelling to see how it should be done.

13 comments:

  1. OMG, they've gone all BrewDog. Funny how 'craft' branding often seems to fall into a hipster stereotype. For me, that branding usually means the contents are an unbalanced taste mess.

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  2. We all may end up being proved wrong, but this seems like a disastrous rebrand - a catastrophic disconnect between audience, branding and product. To be clear - I don't really like Marston's that much. But they have a reasonably popular product, a loyal customer base, and something no brand can buy: heritage. These are, in turn. being jeopardised, alienated and squandered. If Marston's genuinely wish to tap into the growing craft audience, they would have been wise to start first with their product - probably by developing a couple of new beers (a hoppy pale and a coffee porter, maybe?), and take them to market as a distinct sub-brand.

    As it is, the twiggies will be feel irritated and patronised, while the craft w*nkers will feel duped.

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    1. Marstons already have a "craft" sub-brand, and it's awful.

      http://www.revisionistbeers.co.uk/

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    2. A load of Saddle Tank, that stuff...

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    3. The Revisionist branding is much closer to what they should have attempted. Modern, but distinctive. The new Marston's screams craft and will get lost on the shelf.

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  3. Also worth noting that probably three most feted craft brewers - Cloudwater, Buxton and Kernel - eschew these jarring 'extreme beer!!!!' branding tropes, concentrating on being consistent, recognisable on the shelves and - gasp - producing a high-quality product. When a beer is brand or marketing led (especially if the word 'craft' is used the packaging), alarm bells should ring.

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  4. It may be an error but there are positives to these types of error for bargain customers.

    It's not bad pop and will be most welcome when found in Home Bargains for 99p

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  5. Give me an Old Peculier any day.

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  6. “Faux craft” branding, and the question has to be, why? Sussex brewer, Harvey’s re-branding, on the other hand (see back cover of “Beer” magazine for examples), manages to be stylish and modern looking, whilst still retaining the heritage of the individual beers. I also bet they paid a lot less for their re-branding than Marstons did.

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  7. Yes the Harveys rebranding is classy and stylish as is the Wadworths. Marstons is awful and demeans their beers.

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  8. for all the talk about it being faux craft, ask yourselves this where do Marstons sell the majority of their beer ? then ask yourself who are the kind of people who use the places Marstons sell the majority of their beer in ?

    if it helps as a reminder google the trailer of the Channel 5 show "One Ale of a Job" about Marstons brewery, sure we all remember watching that.

    these guys arent competing with Brew Dog, they wont suddenly be selling their beer in the Rake, they havent suddenly discovered craft, its dad dancing because the majority of their customers actually are dads, not for people who take notes of which beer they are drinking and wonder if the brewery name is where the band of the same name came from, its stuff to sit in Mudgies favourite style of faux new build restaurant pub or in Tescos on the shelf that stands out among the bottles of WKD and lager and whatever else brand they are pushing that sounds a bit different but still vaguely familiar. and in that context it ticks all the boxes for them.

    personally I dont like it, but I appreciate its not aimed at me, fwiw Pedigree branding had to change as they dont sponsor the England Cricket team anymore, at which point it makes total sense for Marstons completely revamp its style.

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    1. If Marston's aren't competing with BrewDog, then why do they need to ape their style on their packaging?

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  9. Ace, awesome, rad and down wid da yoof?

    Truly, cringingly awful. Marstons bottled beers are pretty dull, thin gruel anyway, the link with the past suggested by their traditional branding was one of the few things they had going for them. They should have kept the branding and improved the beer.

    I'll stick to their dull but serviceable cask beer. Or at least I would if e-cig users were not persona non grata in their pubs.

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