Raising the Bar: The Art of Alcohol Packaging

By SGK & Equator Design

Raising the bar: the art of alcohol packaging

As we embark on a journey into the dynamic world of alcohol packaging trends for 2024, we turn to industry visionaries Oscar Carcamo, Print Director at SGK, and Michael Duffy, Global Creative Director, and Mike Skrzelowski, Senior Creative Director at Equator Design.

Beyond mere design aesthetics, these thought leaders converse on the intricate details of print finishes like texture and thermo, while championing sustainability through eco-friendly metal decorating techniques. Join us as we explore the convergence of creativity, technology, and sustainability in the ever-evolving landscape of alcohol packaging.

Minimalism Redefined: Elevating Simplicity
"In beer label design, we've always valued clean lines," reflects Duffy. "But in 2024, minimalism is taking a turn. Picture this – a subtle infusion of complexity within seemingly simple designs. It's about understated sophistication that captivates without overpowering."

Carcamo chimes in on the can’s print finish: “A satin finish provides a premium feel and minimal light reflection, bringing vibrancy and modernity to the artwork’s subtlety.

"Gloss finish, on the other hand, brings fullness and contrast, giving the cans that polished, shiny look. The success of a design hinges on its print finish – it's essential to consider the impact of each."

Hyper-Realistic Narratives: A Visual Symphony
Duffy dives into hyper-realistic illustrations: "It's not just for craft beer; it's a transformation of the beer can into a storytelling canvas. Imagine intricate, lifelike depictions transcending labels, creating a visual symphony that resonates universally.”

Carcamo emphasizes the importance of color combination and ink selection: “Crafting a compelling story through design often determines the choice of colors. While some hues may not pack the same punch, they are sometimes necessary sacrifices to effectively convey the contents and flavors housed within the can."

New-stalgia's Timeless Allure: Tradition with a Twist
"Nostalgia reigns supreme across beer varieties in 2024," Carcamo reveals. "While craft brewers often opt for bold and unconventional designs, there's a growing trend of subtle nods to brand heritage. Consumers appreciate clean, minimalist print finishes that evoke nostalgia, seamlessly blending the past with contemporary design."

Duffy continues: "Take the Coors Banquet Legacy Collection – a great creative project from our team. The bold can design marries modern appeal with iconic legacy, a prime example of new-stalgia’s timeless allure.”

Skrzelowski taps into 80s design cues: "Looking back continues to stay on trend. The bold colors, dynamic patterns, and playful graphics of that era are making a comeback in the craft beer scene.

"As for finishes, imagine those design cues accentuated through tactile and visual enhancements. They contribute to a vibrant future, ensuring design cues are brought to life with a commitment to sustainability."

Interactive Labels: A Digital Frontier for All Beers
Duffy envisions a transformative shift: "Interactive labels are not just for craft beer. Across the entire beer landscape, augmented reality and QR code technologies are set to redefine the beer can experience.

"Thermo printing becomes key here. It allows for seamless integration of QR codes and augmented reality elements, creating an interactive label.”

Typography's Dynamic Expression: A Language for All Tastes
Duffy celebrates typography's role: "Typography is often unsung. In alcohol can design, it becomes a universal language expressing the diverse flavors within. Bold fonts and vibrant colors speak to unique taste profiles across all beers.

"And when it comes to finishes, metal decorating expertise provides a canvas for this diverse world of beer. It's a language that resonates with every palate."

A great example is Equator’s work for Miller Lite's limited-edition cans celebrating Luke Combs' 2023 World Tour – a vibrant fusion of music, merriment, and innovative metal decorating techniques. Duffy comments: “We seamlessly integrated Luke's persona into the design, cleverly housing recognizable lyrics and capturing his iconic trucker hat. The use of print techniques heightened the vibrancy of colors, creating a visually impactful design that resonates with fans.

“This collaboration not only garnered acclaim from country music enthusiasts, Miller Lite fans, and distributors but also received a nod of approval from Luke Combs himself. The metal decorating touches not only added sophistication but also contributed to the cans' collectability, resulting in strong sales and a lasting impact on this iconic collaboration."

Beyond Beer: Packaging Sobriety and Wellbeing
Carcamo highlights the rise of low ABV and 0% alcohol drinks: "A boom fueled by younger consumers. With health-consciousness on the rise, brands are innovating in premium packaging.

"And as health-conscious preferences evolve, so does the demand for eco-conscious options. Stadiums are ditching single-use plastics for aluminum drink containers, reflecting a global shift towards sustainability. To meet this demand, many CPGs are exploring innovative print solutions such as texture and thermo printing. Combined with minimalist designs, these techniques create premium, eco-friendly packaging alternatives."

In the competitive realm of alcohol packaging, the insights from Carcamo, Duffy, and Skrzelowski serve as beacons for brands seeking to make a mark. From the nuanced world of minimalism to the immersive storytelling potential of hyper-realistic narratives, and the blend of tradition with a modern twist in new-stalgia, these trends are captivating and transformative.

Texture and thermo printing emerge as unsung heroes, adding depth to visual symphonies. Embracing sustainability with eco-friendly metal decorating techniques becomes the conscientious choice, allowing brands to tell their stories with a commitment to a vibrant, eco-friendly future. As beer packaging transcends its traditional role, it becomes a canvas, a language, and a lifestyle choice, reflecting the intricate tapestry of consumer preferences.

Here's to the evolving artistry of alcohol packaging, where every can tells a story and embraces the future with creativity, technology, and sustainability in perfect harmony.