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Are your labels legally compliant?

Beer Branding Agency

As designers, our job is to make people want to buy your drinks. But it’s not as straightforward as creating a nice-looking can label or bottle label design. We must make sure that what we put on there is legally compliant. 

While nearly every brand of craft beer has a completely unique labels in terms of overall branding and design, you’ll notice that information-wise, things tend to be fairly consistent. 

No matter what brand you choose, the label will almost always show the following: 

  • Beer style (e.g., “India Pale Ale”) 
  • Alcohol percentage (e.g., Alc 5.6% Vol.) 
  • Volume (in pints/ml) 
  • Brewery name and address 
  • Class designation (e.g., “lager” or “porter”) 

While it’s generally good practice to include this information on the label, because it’s important that the customer knows what they are buying, it’s also a legal requirement. The law also says how this information must be displayed to be legally compliant, and things can get quite specific (e.g., alcohol content MUST be expressed to the nearest 0.1%).  

Failure to adhere to the rules could result in your label being rejected by trading standards. 

We need to keep all of this in mind when designing labels and packaging, as failure to follow local laws could result in the label being rejected by trading standards (which would mean a very unhappy client, if we are the designers responsible for the label). 

What should be included on a label? 

Because the brewery industry is still classed as a sin industry, trading standards have put together a comprehensive list of what is legally required on alcoholic drinks labels so that customers can make an informed choice of what they are drinking, and breweries can be sure they are being legally compliant and socially responsible. And so have we at LemonTop. We have our own handy guide to what should go on the beer labels we design. Our designers use these to make sure that everything that should go on there does go on there. 

Considering everything from safety to social responsibility. 

There is a whole host of mandatory information we must display from the name of the drink and it’s alcohol content, through to any allergens it contains. We even have to include any special storage conditions or instructions. This is entirely necessary because although these drinks are all brewed to be enjoyed, some of this mandatory information is there for the safety of the customer, especially where allergens are concerned.  

There are also things that we don’t necessarily have to display, but we consider it best practice to do so as these items relate to breweries being socially responsible. These include information such as the chief medical officer’s guidelines, the anti-drink driving logo and even the recycling logo. Due to the many current drink awareness campaigns, anything of social concern, such as higher than normal alcohol content, is always highlighted and exaggerated on any designs we create. The breweries we work with do accept that they have a social responsibility to do this. 

Our whole team is aware of these rules and regulations, so please feel free to give us a call or email us if you would like any help and advice, or if you would like us to review your current label designs. 

We can still be creative with label designs. 

But just because they are mandatory legal requirements doesn’t mean we can’t have a bit of fun with them. Buy a bottle of Dancing Duck beer and look for the duck dancing around with the units of alcohol information. Or try a can from Yorkshire Dales Brewery and see the hiker walking across the top of the barcode. As designers, it’s adding the little details like these that can often make the difference between the customer buying the product or leaving it on the shelf. This is our way of being a little more creative and making customers smile when they notice what we’ve done, but at the same time, we always need to make sure they are clear and easy to read. 

But as designers, does all this mandatory legal detail cause us a problem? No, quite the opposite in fact. As designers we see ourselves as problem solvers. We know it has to go on there, so we relish the challenge of finding more creative ways to do this and convince customers to buy your product. 

So next time you look at a beer can label, beer bottle label or box packaging, spare a thought for the designer who has a lot more to contend with than just making things look good. 

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