Jan 27, 2012

Illegibility, repetition and nonsense. All good

There can hardly be a country whose beer isn’t available in British supermarkets, so choosing is a bit like asking: “where do I want to go this evening?”

When more than one beer from that country is available, you get to choose what ‘type’ of Brazilian/Spanish/Czech/etc beer drinker you want to be like, and packaging is your guide. No point going there if you don’t get an authentic (that word again) experience, so with Japan’s Asahi I’m glad to see just the right amount of weird symbols, and a long-winded story of taste, ingredients and ‘all seasons’ suitability (in which the words ‘Asahi’ and ‘beer’ appear 6 times each). Almost clashing shapes and typography reassure me that this label has gained its details by slow accretion, not through a design ‘concept’.

It all adds up to an exotic, urban chic that could easily be translated lock, stock and barrel into, say, a clothing store. We could call it… Superdry!

Takeout: Beer is a national (or regional) symbol that both borrows from and directs a country’s image. Think of it as a mini-tourist brochure.