Propagandist art

Posted by Steve on Feb 24th 2014 in: Beer & Cider, The art of packaging: emotional response

Several Beer Brands on a Supermarket Shelf

As a regular drinker of these superb beers I’ve become used to the fact that their design codes chewed up the rules of the market and spat them in the bin. But to many people browsing the beer aisle, they probably look like alien invaders.

Examples of such semiotic brilliance are rare, and their power usually stems as much from what they are NOT as from what they are. This is not standout for standout’s sake, this is a manifesto on a label, an expertly designed (and copywritten) political protest against ‘watered down, mass-marketed beers’ and their corporate owners. The bottle is as proletarian as you could get, the branding rich in subversive meaning, and the one-colour labels aesthetically balanced whilst purporting to scream rebellion. Banksy on a bottle.

My emotional response might be skewed by my professional interest, but the runaway success of the company suggests that hordes of young drinkers are joining the movement. It sure beats a story of a dedicated craftsman and his two brothers perfecting their art in a hand-built brewery in their shed. That story has its fans too, of course. They’re just a lot less fanatical.