Book review

Beer By Design – The Art Of Good Beer Branding
By Pete Brown, with Liz Vater

Tracing the history of beer label design and advertising through the ages, this book offers both lessons in how design works in the context of advertising and an interesting historical narrative of how design in beer branding has evolved over time. Succinct chapters with excellent accompanying photographs give this book that ‘coffee table’ feel to it. However, as much as one can dip in and out of this book, with any page capable of holding the reader’s attention, the way the author engages the reader when discussing the tools used by those in marketing and how and why they’ve related to beer branding – from Bass and Allsops in the late 1800s, right through to the eye watering displays that we see on bars today (mainly in supermarkets for the time being) – makes this book well worth the reader’s full attention from cover to cover.

The author’s informed and expert explanation of specific tools and tricks used by those in design for marketing and how they can work on us subconsciously was (even for a cynic like me) eye opening. Every accompanying photograph has been carefully chosen and in some cases meticulously broken down to explain each concept. Each chapter exemplifies the fact that whether coming from a global super brewer or a smaller, passionate, ‘craft’ brewer, there are very few happy accidents in branding when businesses are vying for your money.

Although the author drops enough hints that he clearly enjoys cask ale, I enjoyed the fact that he hasn’t been dogmatic about only discussing ‘real ale’ but has looked at all beer branding design and this book is all the better for it. I feel, after reading this book, that some cask brewers could do a lot worse than have this as a reference in their breweries.

A thoroughly recommended read.

Navindh Baburam

The book is available on-line at shop.camra.org.uk priced £15.99

ISBN: 978-1-85249-368-4.

Paperback 25 x 21 cm; 224 page