In the first of what I hope to be a regular series of blog posts about alcohol branding as that would allow me to drink copiously under the guise of ‘important research’, I’m kicking off with a spotlight on Feral brewery’s branding for their ales and beers. If you couldn’t tell from that vague use of ‘ales and beers’, I’m not a big beer (or ale) drinker. Give us a pint of cider or a glass of wine. Or a Bacardi Breezer. I’m not fussy.*
Anyway. Since I’m not a huge beer drinker I’m not going to be drawn to a bottle of the stuff unless it has something else going for it. And let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have been drawn to Feral if it wasn’t for faffing about on the design boards on Pinterest. They’re an Aussie brewery, and while I haven’t seen it hanging round in any of our off-licenses, you can import four bottles over for about twelve quid from one of those specialist beer nerd websites if you’re so inclined.
So, it was their ads and branding that caught my eye, and mainly because I’m a big believer in tone of voice being the key behind creating a brand that’s going to become something people will stick to and feel loyal towards. You’re not going to buy in to a company or product unless you feel like you get it (and they get you). It has to stand for what you stand for, or you like the way it’s made, or it fits with your lifestyle or image or your own interests.
And to really ‘get’ a brand, they have to explain themselves in a way that resonates with you. The way they speak has to coincide with the way you speak – even if it might only be applicable to certain areas of your life. (I wouldn’t say ‘you know where you can shove that lime’ to someone at work for example. Well. I probably would. But you know what I mean.)
Feral are a great example of infiltrating the over-crowded craft beer industry with a tone of voice that stands out and grabs you from the get-go. Like a lot of other craft beer brands, the visual identity is still pretty hipster, but it works really well. The style takes graphic cues from zines and that kind of punky, DIY aesthetic with the photocopying textures and handwritten scribbles. Very independent, low-fi, power to the people grassroots style – which in turn references the hands-on nature of the brand itself. The colours are classic biro ink, there’s a hint of Sharpie, both contrast nicely with the solid, bold, proud type for the brand name that stop it all feeling a bit too amateur.
And that all pairs perfectly with the copy – ‘shove’, ‘bacony’ – very casual, written as it would be spoken, pub-style chatting. Clever one-liners in the ads that you can engage with even more immediately thanks to the rushed and uneven handwriting which feels personable and spontaneous. It doesn’t feel preachy, like a know-it-all craft beer nerd’s choice that you can only go for if you know exactly what a hop is. (It’s some kind of crop, right? Like corn or summat. Maybe.) Instead, it’s funny, light-hearted, and laid back.
Feral feels fresh and different in a market that is already hugely saturated with brands that have a similar kind of ‘punky’ sentimentality – but they still seem to have all the best bits of that kind of rebellious and independent attitude. I think the starkness of the ads and genuine tone helps to reinforce them as a bit more of a truthfully independent alternative to the bigger players like Brewdog, who are now almost a bit too popular for their own good. It’s hard to keep playing the cool, anti-corporate alternative to the mainstream when you’re easily available in Asda, for example.
Feral’s branding was created by Block, who are based over in Perth. If you couldn’t tell from the waffle above, I’m a fan.
* This is, of course, a fib for comedic effect. About a year ago I would gladly accept a Barcardi Breezer but thanks to moving down south I now have a much more sophisticated, London-trained palate. Sometimes I can even tell when wine tastes like peaches.**
** Who am I kidding, I’d still down a Breezer.