Today I am unemployed, though come Monday I will be employed again. Yesterday was my last day working for Convoy, a graphic design company here in Charlottesville, Monday will be my first day at Silverchair, a software company about 2 blocks up the street from Convoy.
No longer working in the graphic design world means I can finally talk about design for breweries without having to declare a vested interest. It was a couple of years ago that I wrote about the abysmal state of many a brewery's website, and design assets in general, as well as posting about those that get it right.
Have things improved in the 25 months since that pair of posts? In some respects yes, but I still wonder how many breweries and brewpubs out there are neglecting their website and other design elements such as logos, labels and the like?
Clearly the bigger "craft" breweries generally do a good job, Samuel Adams redesigned their website last year sometime. I think it is much improved on the previous iteration, particularly for finding details of their beers and the fact that they are not using Flash anywhere on the site. The same can not be said of Sierra Nevada though, the basic structure and design of the site has not changed since we moved to the States in 2009, though thankfully Flash is also a thing of the past on their website.
Unfortunately there are still too many breweries with websites which are nothing more than a riot of colour, fonts that look like they fell straight off Jimmy Carter's desk just after legalising homebrewing and information which is haphazardly "organised".
Recently I got my hands on the business start up plan for a brewery startup here in Virginia and whilst going through the numbers, one thing jumped out at me, there was no planning whatsoever for brand design, whether logo, labels or website. Perhaps I am being crazy here, but who in their right mind commits potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to creating a brewery but not a penny to creating their brand and making their beers stand out on the retail shelf, whether physical or virtual?
Yes, good design is expensive but how much more expensive is it in the long run to have your beer ignored on the shelves because of amateurish design?
* all the pictures are examples of beer related design that I like, and that last one was done by my friend Rob of Opta Design in Prague for my LimeLight homebrew.