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What’s the “Cool” Design Code in Beer?

By Hamsini Shivakumar

Craft beers in India, apart from setting up microbreweries and focusing on making great tasting beer for the beer lovers of India, have also defined their own design code for getting the “cool” tag from their users. This has helped them define their own sub-segment among beers and a ‘hip’ sub-culture of beer drinkers in their microbreweries.

So, what are the signs of ‘cool’ in the design code of craft beers?

There is the use of animal references – rhinos, monkeys, octopus, lions, and owls – the more exotic the better. There are also the funky black and white graphics in a signature design style. The names given are quirky and completely unrelated to the beer – White Owl, Eight Finger Eddie, Kati Patang, White Rhino, Bira, Simba. The colours too play a role; blue evokes associations of ‘chilled’ and ‘cold’ beer as well as natural elements such as the water used. Red is associated with passion in many contexts and here the red could refer to the passion for beer among beer lovers. Yellow is the colour of sunshine and connotes the feeling of positivity and joy that the light buzz created by beer, evokes. Sunny yellow is also the feeling of joy that a beer lover feels on drinking a high quality, craft beer.

Adding up all of these signs, we can define the Design Code of Cool as: Quirky and funky signs that make for a fun beer party.

The animal references point to a playful and fun personality, one who has a good sense of humour. This could describe the drinker and the humanized brand. The playful and fun personality is also reinforced by the funky brand names.

At a stretch, the animal references also suggest that the drinkers of these craft beers also love wildlife, spending time in the wild and have a hobby and passion around wildlife photography.

The ‘original’ graphics in black and white, with a signature artistic style point to the signature taste of the beer, because it is a craft beer; also made by those who know and love their beer.

Beers that want to refer to the taste of the water that goes into the making of their beer, also use a deep blue colour, the presumed colour of freshwater in nature.

The Design Code of Cool Beers is distinctly different from the design codes used by the mainstream brands of beers, from Kingfisher to Heineken to Carlsberg as also the local strong beer brands. A new craft beer entering the Indian beer market would need to conform to this design code to find its place among Indian craft beers unless it is able to invent a new narrative and start a new design code.

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