Nothin' like a Nice Package
I love a good package.
While the BJCP judge in me knows that brand and packaging has little to do with the quality of a beer (see our surprising results in our blind Double IPA and Belgian Dark taste tests), I am a marketer at heart. That heart gets broken when I see crappy packaging, as many new and some established beer brands put on the shelf. And, unfortunately for them, as that shelf becomes more competitive and the consumer becomes more adventerous, packaging has a huge impact on the consumer purchasing decision.
Thus, if I was launching a new beer (or advising an existing brand as I've done previously), I would put some real effort into my branding. Don't design your packaging on your own, at least not without some talent and significant validation before putting it into the marketplace. You're better off hiring a professional or an extremely talented friend. Test the concept with your target audience (there are many ways to reach them, such as through blogs and forums) before you spend a lot of money on production. Think about the brand's appearance not just on its own, but in the context of the shelf where it will live next to hundreds of competitors. Simple and understated often packs a punch when next to the over-engineered designs so common among craft beers. Sixpoint does an incredible job of this, as does Dragoon, which I discovered a couple weeks ago in AZ and included in the header above this post.
With thousands of breweries in the US today and hundreds more entering each year, packaging could make or break a beer's success. And, though blind taste tests like those above should eliminate bias, branding also has a significant impact on taste perception, which impacts BeerAdvocate scores and future sales as well.
Let us know if we can provide feedback on your branding (directly or by sharing with our community) by emailing us. And, if you have a favorite package be sure to share it in the comments below!