In advertising terms, beer logos are as important as a logo for any other consumer product. A logo defines the company and the product, giving the customer an immediate visual image and association. As with the marketing of any product, brewers have to persuade consumers to buy (and continue to buy) their products rather than those of their competitors.
Common Themes in Beer Logos
Traditionally, beer logos have been based on two main themes, either beer ingredients (e.g. hops, barley) or the geographical location of the brewer. Although these types of logos are still common, many modern beer logos are designed to be lifestyle statements rather than anything connected directly with brewing.
Beer art, in the form of beer labels and posters, has a long and fascinating history. Numerous classic beer logos have been created since the start of the mass marketing of beer.
Origins of Beer Art
Simple printed beer labels started to appear on bottles in the 1840s and, by the 1860s, some brewers were adding logos to their beer labels. The Guinness Irish harp and the Bass red triangle logos appeared widely on beer labels from the second half of the nineteenth century onwards. These beer logos can even be found as details in paintings by well-known artists such as Manet and Picasso.
Development of Beer Art
The development and refinement of advertising techniques have cultivated a variety of beer art and logos. Early examples of ‘breweriana’ such as drip mats, posters, and ashtrays decorated with beer logos, and larger items such as illuminated bar signs are now highly collectible.
Guinness advertising, in particular, has consistently maintained high standards and is very popular with collectors worldwide. The work of artist John Gilroy, who created the Guinness toucan in 1935, is well regarded and is used in Guinness advertising to this day.
Beer Art in Modern Media
Brewers have used newer media to create contemporary ‘breweriana.’ Television advertising and computer screensavers such as Budweiser’s frogs and Guinness’s surfing horses and racing snails have been used with great effect to raise awareness of these major beer brands.
Beer Logos and Globalization
With the consolidation of the brewing industry that has taken place in recent years, beer logos are more important than ever. Multinational brewers such as Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller, and InterBev spend millions on advertising to keep their products’ logos in the public eye to maintain and expand sales growth. Brewers’ enormous advertising budgets reflect the importance of differentiating mass-market beers in the eyes of consumers.
Distinctive beer logos are not restricted to the big brewers. Regional breweries and microbreweries in North America and Europe take pride in their beer logos. Prime examples include Hall and Woodhouse’s badger in England, Felinfoel’s double dragon in Wales and New Glarus’s Wisconsin thumbprint in the USA.
You can safely say that wherever there is a coveted beer, there will be a beer logo associated with it.