A perspective on Outstanding by Design from Dave Donohue


Dave is a Thomastown based writer working on his own craft beer product & when I saw that he was coming to the event I asked him to pen his thoughts on it. Here they are.


David Donohue – guest blog for Bia Beag

When I attended Bia Beag’s Outstanding by Design forum at Highbank Orchards in June, I did so as part of my research for a craft beer which I am currently developing.

Although aware that branding was essentially about communicating to the potential customer ‘what you are’ as a brand, I didn’t necessarily see the investment of money in the branding process as an essential part of launching a new small-producer product.

As somebody who works with a well-stocked little Kilkenny deli (Glasrai & Goodies), on the marketing and sourcing side, I come across a lot of small-producer food and drink products which have been launched without engagement with professional designer/consultants.

..all rely on simple packaging/labelling


Products like Sally Barnes’ Woodcock Smokery’s smoked fish, Goatsbridge’s trout (before its recent ‘branding’), Highbank Orchard’s Driver’s Cider, Orchard Syrup and ciders, Danette Milne’s pesto’s and sauces all rely on simple packaging/labelling.

When I see these products beside the ‘branded’ ones like Paddy O’s Granola, Mella’s Fudge, Mic’s chilli and Gubbeen cheese I don’t necessarily see the branded products jumping off the shelf in comparison.

Siobhan Lawlor, who owns Glasrai & Goodies, always says that the most simply packaged produce does best in her deli. In Siobhan’s opinion anything too fussy, loud, showy or glitzy puts the customer off buying artisan produce. ‘Truffle Fairy truffles come in a plain box with just a tiny sticker with the Truffle Fairy logo. There is no contents information, and yet we can’t keep them in stock.’

Before the Outstanding by Design forum I intended to design my own label for my craft beer, named after Ireland’s most famous philosopher, Berkeley, with the help of a brilliant local artist/illustrator. I was going to do something that looked good, stood out on the shelves and got the story across. If my product did okay in the market I would then look at ‘branding’ to take it to the next level.

…the length and intensity of the branding process

I was interested to me if the forum would sway me from my intended approach. The first thing that struck me as the forum progressed was the length and intensity of the branding process.

Sarah Maguire from Brand Union spent months delving into the branding possibilities afforded by Paddy O’ Connell’s love of the great outdoors, good looks and strong personal story, while the evolution of freelance designer, Steve Simpson’s label designs for Mic Wejchert’s, Mic’s Chilli, incorporating the bar code into his ‘day of the dead’ influenced cartoon-like illustrations, was an eye opener.

As well as being a window into Steve’s artistic approach, the conversation highlighted the lengthy step-by-step process that created a clearly-branded, quirky and memorable product, while fulfilling the producers exacting brief. Steve also brought to light how some freelance designers are willing to be flexible, price-wise, when working with new producers with whom they hope to develop a long term relationship.

…highlighted by the forum was its collaborative nature


Another aspect of the branding process which was highlighted by the forum was its collaborative nature. Mella Mc Auley, from Mella’s fudge and freelance designer, Liz Maybury seemed to delight in the process of working together, with Liz emphasizing how she faithfully incorporated Mella’s one stipulation, that gold foil be used for the lettering of the fudge bar packaging.

Erik Johansson, from The Green Man Studio and Paul O’ Connor of the Trouble Brewing, brewing company also gave a great insight into the to-and-fro between designer and client. In this case the brief was to re-brand a craft brewing company with a stipulation to be ‘rebellious yet not offensive.’ This re-branding has, according to Paul, been a huge factor in Trouble Brewing’s year-on-year growth of 50%.

Christina Moody from Value Added in Africa and Laura Macauley from Navigate by Design illustrated how inspired re-branding gave a small African Community-focused honey-making project a real shot at the International market.

Rachel Kerr from Creative Inc & Liz Skehan (mother of Donal) of Skoff pies talked about Liz and Donal’s newly launched product, and the design brief, which asked her to emphasise that Skoff Pies ‘stand for home cooked food with a funky personality.’ Rachel emphasised the importance of a good name in being identified, recognised and understood, and the role which colour plays in branding.

His advice to me was simple – have a clear idea of what your product is…


After lunch the attendees were given the opportunity to have a one-to-one discussion with a designer of their choice. I chose Eric Johanssen, who had created Trouble Brewing’s entertaining and eye-catching labels. His advice to me was simple – have a clear idea of what your product is, who the customer is, and why they might want to buy it, and to use this information to create a brand image that sets your product apart.

He liked my product idea and especially the products unique twist (I should be in marketing!). He also loved my choice of label illustrator because, Eric said, my designer is a guy with a very individual style, and a great love for craft beer. The Eric gave me his card and told me to call him as the project came closer to fruition.

The concluding talk of the day, following designer Lorenzo Tonti and Gubbeen’s Fingal Ferguson’s warm-hearted discussion about the Ferguson families long relationship with the designer, came from designer, Giles Calver.

Gile’s wrote the book ‘What Is Packaging Design?’ which organiser/host and the man behind Biabeag, Keith Bohanna, had earlier suggested was the product-design bible. Giles bullet-pointed the essentials of good branding, summarising the key points of the day in the process.

…good branding is not just an essential for product success, but a fascinating world in itself


Giles left me with a sense that good branding is not just an essential for product success, but a fascinating world in itself, a world which combines psychology and anthropology, while being ruled by with the basic tenet that humans like nice things in nice packages.

Almost two months on from the Outstanding by Design forum I continue with my product research. I see beer labels that have been through months of design consultancy at great cost and some which have been put together by the brewers teenage art-loving daughter on photo-shop, and I can’t always tell the difference.

…I’m still not convinced that I need to hire a professional designer


So, no, I’m still not convinced that I need to hire a professional designer to take my beer to the shelf, at least initially. Goatsbridge trout thrived and grew for years with their initial packaging, and Highbank Orchards, with a simple label designed by Julie Calder-Potts, can barely keep up with the demand for their Driver’s Cider.

I do know, however, that everything I learnt during the forum will inform my approach to designing the label for my unique beer product, and, if I’m not happy with the results, I just might give Eric Johanssen a call…

David Donohue David Donohue is an author/songwriter/horse racing journalist with a love of food and craft beer. David works as marketing consultant, Facebook manager, with Glasrai & Goodies and the Truffle Fairy Café and Chocolaterie. davyd@eircom.net

Outstanding By Design – Guest Post by Theresa Phelan (@ 3sa23)

Coming up to Outstanding I was contacted by Theresa Phelan (link to her Linkedin Profile) who lives in Kilkenny. She did Visual Comms in Limerick and heard about the day during a work placement with Brand Union.

She helped me out during the day and wrote this guest post on each of the talks. I enjoyed her take on each of the talks and the day overall -thanks 🙂



Outstanding by Design, took place on the 10th of May and explored the beneficial outcomes of great branding and design on food producers sales. The one day event of inspirational discussion, happened in the beautiful surroundings of Highbank Orchards, located on the outskirts of medieval Kilkenny.

The itinerary for the day scheduled 7 Irish designers to speak with their partner food producing client, about collaborating and developing their successful branding and packaging. Outstanding by Design was not limited to insightful and inspiring presentations, but also held 1 to 1 consultations between attendees and designers. The atmosphere was light and relaxed with a wide range of attendees from local entrepreneurs to passionate designers.

Sarah Maguire, Brand Union & Paddy O’Connell, Paddy O’Granola

The day kicked off with Sarah Maguire from Brand Union, discussing her role in constructing the branding and packaging designs for Paddy O’s Granola. Paddy O’Connell is the owner and producer of Paddy O’s Granola and holds the ambition of becoming the leading granola seller in the UK.

The choice to rebrand was also driven by his desire to heighten his on-shelf visibility within supplier outlets. Sarah strived to portray the product as being fun and wholesome by placing Paddy’s own personal story at the heart of the brand. Sarah described the different visual assets used in order to communicate the brand essence ‘getting the most out of life’.

One area of design which particularly stood out was the inclusion of intricate map illustrations on the packaging, which provides the consumer with a personal experience and builds consumer engagement with the brand. Paddy pointed out that it is quite expensive to rebrand, yet it is definitely an essential key to progressing a brand. In regard to the success of the rebrand, sales grew by over 300% with the product being sold in large retailers including Tesco, SuperValu, Dunnes Stores, Palas Foods and Avoca.

Laura Macaulay, Navigate By Design & Ka Tutandike

The second discussion of the day reflected on the success of Ugandan Katu Honey collaborating with designer Laura Macaulay and Kristina Moody from non-profit organisation, Value-Added in Africa. Kristina discussed the Value Added Africa model which explores the plan, concept, research, copy, design and produce.

The Ka Tutandike ‘Lets Get Started’ charity is based in Uganda and decided upon selling honey due to its accessible production and high demand from a consumers point of view. Laura Macaulay from Navigate by Design looked at rebranding the existing identity of Katu Honey by choosing to portray women empowered as the underlying brand concept. Tying in the idea of women harnessing the power of nature in their back garden to produce quality food gave way for a strongly ethical piece of design.

Kristina discussed the process of survey evaluation on the product which took place on survey monkey prior to the products launch. This allowed for feedback from consumers which helped exam the designs created for the brand thus creating a solid structured finalised brand. Other points given during the talk included the necessity of creating a compelling brand story, hiring a copywriter can strengthen a products design, develop strong working relationships with everyone on board the project and to market with broad brush strokes.

Erik Johansson, The Green Man Studio & Paul O Connor, Trouble Brewing

The third talk was by Trouble Brewing who originated in 2010 and has been producing beer for nearly 4 years. Paul O’Connor is a partner in Trouble Brewing and began the discussion about the different variations of beers they are marketing and producing within their Kildare based brewery. They decided upon a name that wasn’t typical Irish for standout amongst similar produce sellers while their approach to design is quite unusual for differentiation in their point of sale. 

The craft beer industry allows for great exploration in ingredients and alcohol levels which ultimately allows for creative branding. Erik spoke about the given brief for the redesign of the existing brand identity which aimed to be rebellious yet not offensive. The design was inspired by cartoon comic strips to get a story across to the consumer.

Erik looked at humour to portray a contemporary feel to the brand, resulting to a highly innovative piece of design with a controversial approach to brand identity. There is currently a large interest in the craft beer sector with Trouble Brewing’s sales growing almost 50% every year of their existence.

Liz Maybury & Mella McAuley, Mella Fudge

Mella McAuley grew up producing fudge in the locality of Clonakilty in Co.Cork. Mella’s passion for making fudge expanded into a large scale project which currently markets in a variety of artisanal stockists including; Avoca, Butlers Pantry, Selfridges and SuperValu.

Liz Maybury is a young passionate designer who took on the task of creating Mella’s Fudge brand identity and packaging. Liz firstly spoke about her own design process and how she believes in meeting the client in person to discuss their brand belief and to gain insight into what the client requires.

Mella had one criteria for the design which was to include gold foil in the packaging design to evoke a sense of quality.Liz pointed out the importance of looking at different competitors on a national and international level to gain deep insight into the existing branding trends.

The Q & A section of this discussion gave rise to some interesting protocols needed to be considered when creating a brand which included registering a brand to become the full owner of a brand name. Liz also stated that when a client is choosing a designer, they need to research their portfolio and previous designs to ensure that their style is suitable to their product.

Steve Simpson & Mic Wejchert, Mic’s Chilli

The afternoon session of discussions began with renowned illustrator Steve Simpson speaking about his role in creating the branding packaging and identity for Mic’s Chilli. Mic was unfortunately absent for the talk yet Steve gave great insight into the alternative approach taken in producing the packaging and label design. Mic was drawn to the chilli industry after he became redundant. Mic wanted a design that is attractive on a table not just in the supermarket. The packaging acts as a piece of artwork on its own rather than a food product.

Mic got in touch with Steve to create a brand for his new product even though he is not a traditional graphic designer. Simpson’s background is based in comic book design and has designed for renowned brands such as Boyne Valley , Eddie Rocket and Panda.

Steve’s inspiration for Mic’s Chilli derived from day of the dead artwork. Hand lettering was a huge influence as Simpson wanted to incorporate a vintage feel into the packaging with a limited colour palette. A particular area of the package design which is intriguing is the development of a personalised barcode. Simpson cleverly created this barcode to sit with his design. Steve has a set of guidelines to stick to with barcodes on his website which may be usual for designers: http://stevesimpson.com/17721/1202053/portfolio/illustrated-barcodes

Mic’s chilli has gone on to win various awards including the Great Taste Awards and the ICAD Awards. The produce is currently being sold in SuperValu, Harvey Nichols, Avoca and many other stockists on an international scale.

Rachel Kerr, Creative Inc & Liz Skehan, Skoff

Skoff pies are a new range of premium branded Irish pies by Donal Skehan. The new product is only 6 weeks old and has already received great commendation from consumers. Donal’s mother Liz, worked in conjunction with Bord Bia who held 3 pitches with different design agencies in attaining the branding project for the new range. Liz required the brand to stand for home cooked food with a funky personality which ultimately reflects Donal’s own self. 

Rachel Kerr from Creative Inc took on the job of branding Skoff and spoke about her main ambition of getting the story of the client across through the packaging and branding. Creative Inc originated in 1995 and are primarily a branding company whom have worked with clients from public to private sector. A strong point Rachel made confirms ‘a good name is the gateway to be identified, recognised and understood’.

The name Skoff is an overarching and distinctive name that suggest wholesomeness while still linking Donal’s own name by replacing the c with k which links to Skehan. The design was influenced by 50s graphics with vibrant colours which undoubtedly grabs the consumers eye. Liz lastly spoke about the importance of the packaging format in terms of being stackable and sustainable. Skoff pies are currently being supplied in various stockists including SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and are currently in negotiation with Tesco.

Lorenzo Tonti & Fingal Ferguson, Gubeen

The penultimate discussion of the day was given by Fingal Ferguson from cheese producing company Gubeen and the brand designer Lorenzo Tonti. Fingal grew up on a family farm in West Cork and has been always creating exiting foods and holds a strong working relationship with Lorenzo.

Fingal spoke about the heritage of the family and the existence of the Gubeen Logo which is a piece of artwork owned by the family and was originally created by renowned typographer Eric Gill. Lorenzo furthered the discussion by stating the relevance of getting to know the client in order to reflect on the story of the producer to communicate to the consumer. Exploring the essence of the producer provides a rich identity for the brand.

Lorenzo felt Gubeen are a group of passionate and creative people with strong beliefs which needed to be communicated in the brand. They are also inventive in the sense of using up in season products. Gubeen act in a collaborative manner to provide the best end product. This notion lead to the highlighting point of the talk which reflected on the necessity of strong interaction in the development of new and innovative products. Lorenzo wanted to express the history of the family through the survival of the brand logo from the 70s.

Revitalising this brand mark as the current logotype was inevitable due to its rich essence. Gubeen revisited the brand wanting to extend their range to salami’s and smoked meets which required the design of new flexible packaging systems and colour schemes. Overall Lorenzo and Fingal’s discussion pinpointed the value of close relationships as they allow for ease of development of ideas. The range is constantly growing which keeps the brand contemporary thus business is always changing. The talk finished up with the term ‘chaordic’ which is a system that may appear unorganised from the exterior but has an underlying organised system, which reflects the creative working methods of Gubeen.

Giles Calver

The day came to a close with Giles Calver speaking about food packaging designs and examining the different traits of successful branding. Strong points to take into consideration included the advantage of communicating the provenance of local food producers in branding is huge. The quality of packaging is also crucial as its longevity will allow for the brand to last. Asserting a particular attitude and building a relationship with consumers can help strengthen sales. The visual style of a product is relevant in keeping a consistent and own-able brand.

Calver ended his insightful talk with an astonishing figure which stated that a barrel of oil is valued at the same price as a barrel of Coca-Cola. Branding is truly an essential part of business development and driving sales.

In review, the event was highly inspiring which gave real scope into the branding and packaging design industry for entrepreneurs, potential producers, designers and food lovers. The discussions evoked many topics of interest which informed my understanding of how a client and designer relationship can help strengthen a brand. It was great to see such creative energy combined with passionate business mindsets. This one day event has surely instigated great encouragement for food producers to become more aware and familiarised with their own branding and the process involved in building a successful business.


Outstanding By Design – @lizmaybury and the story of the @MellasFudge packaging design

Cheating here, this is a guest post done for me by Liz in 2011 (5th May, almost 3 years ago!) and bringing it up the blog because Liz and Mella are one of the pairings in Outstanding By Design on 10th May. She may not like me for not updating her photo 🙂

Elizabeth Maybury who shares the story of the Mella Fudge packaging design including some practical stuff on her experience of finding printers for the work. I first saw Mella Fudge in Partridges Fine Foods shop in Gorey.

This is Elizabeth

and this is her post:

Mella’s Fudge is based in Clonakilty, Co. Cork and produces the most amazing, buttery, crumbly, handmade fudge you will ever taste! The fudge currently comes in four flavours – vanilla, walnut, rum & raisin and chocolate.

I first met Mella a couple of years ago when I redesigned her logo. Mella’s name comes from the old Irish word for honey, which is represented in the logo by a little bee which forms the apostrophe of Mella’s. Honey is sugary, tasty, a treat – sharing the same sweet traits as fudge.

The brief

When it came to the packaging, the aim was to communicate that the fudge is a premium quality, luxury product, but also that it is handmade in a kitchen by Mella rather than mass produced. Mella asked me to incorporate gold foil somewhere on the packaging and I really wanted to use Kraft ribbed brown paper, so I thought the two combined would be a good way to communicate both the luxury (the gold foil) and handmade (the brown paper) qualities of the fudge.

Use of Colour

There is one colour to represent each flavour, making it easy to differentiate between each, but also complimentary when displayed together. The wrapper was carefully measured so that the edge of the bar would remain visible, even if there were slight discrepancies in each bar’s shape (it is handmade after all).

Sourcing a printer
The difficulties began when I went to source a printer. Most refused to even quote, as apparently gold foil on brown paper isn’t a very common request (who knew!). Finally I tracked down the wonderful Glennon Print in Ashbourne, Co. Meath (sadly they have recently ceased trading).

Reading the barcode

You will notice that the barcode is printed on a white background box. This was to ensure there would be enough contrast between the barcode and the background so that barcode readers could pick it up. Cue many test trips to my local shop to make use of their tills and try out the barcodes in various colours on various papers. Finally we decided the white background was the safest option as directly printing on the brown background was having unpredictable scanning results. So after several weeks of tests like this, ink checks, gold foil on Kraft tests, meetings and samples the job was finally ready to go to press.

The Press Check

I travelled up to Ashbourne for the press check, as the colour of the inks would change unpredictably when on the brown paper and they had to look exactly as intended. Several adjustments later and they were perfect. After printing they were sent out for gold foiling before being delivered to Mella in West Cork.

This was definitely one of the most challenging but also the most enjoyable projects I’ve worked on. Mella and I were both happy with the results, and I really appreciate that Mella let me go with this when we were being told so often that gold foil on Kraft wasn’t possible. Glennon Print were brilliant to work with and put so much time into this.

Mella’s Fudge is stocked by Sheridan’s, Fallon & Byrne and others. Mella also sells her fudge at Bantry Market on Fridays and Schull Market on Sundays. The full list of stockists is available on her webpage www.mellasfudge.com

Elizabeth’s contact details:
Twitter: @lizmaybury

More on the full day on 10th May here and you can book there too 🙂


Guest Post – Bacon Jam, Ed Hicks

With a number of guest posts in the pipeline Liz Maybury (who featured in May with her Mella Fudge work) popped into my inbox again yesterday so here she is – thanks Liz.

This came about via a quick chat with Ed at the Taste Council event in Wicklow which was the first time we had spoken properly and when he happily told me who had done the design for him.

This is Elizabeth

and this is her second guest post:

Bacon jam is “the porkiest, pokiest, tangiest, most tantalizing sweet/sour chutney you’ve ever tasted” created by Ed Hick of Hick’s Traditional Pork Butchers in Dun Laoghaire. It can be used as a relish, on eggs, stirred in as a dressing, spread on a sandwich, or even eaten by the spoonful. Ed gave me the task of designing a label for his creation, which, being a bacon jam fan, I was only too happy to accept!

The brief for the design was fairly open, so I came up with several concepts to present to Ed before we settled on the chosen idea. It wasn’t a requirement to match the label to the existing Hick’s branding, but the little pig illustration alludes to it.

I drew the pig using simple geometric shapes. The typography is set at an angle to continue the geometric theme. I chose a soft and friendly typeface as a contrast to ensure that the whole design didn’t look too angular and severe in combination with the capitals of the text and the straight lines of the illustration.

The descriptive words in the product information are bold to highlight and bring some points of interest to what would otherwise have been just a large block of text. The size of the label was also important, as if it’s too long it gets difficult to wrap around the jars, so this also had to be considered.

As a result the most challenging aspect was fitting in the nutritional information, ingredients, best before, batch number and barcode into a small area without compromising legibility. I left a space beneath the best before and batch numbers where the information can be overprinted during production, as these figures aren’t constant.

The label is self adhesive and printed on a gloss stock. It comes in rolls, which can then be run through another printer to overprint the appropriate best before and batch numbers before they are finally applied to the jars.

Bacon Jam is available from Ed at Hick’s stall in Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday and from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/ehlZar
Twitter: @edhick


Twitter: @lizmaybury

Thank again Liz. You can see the other posts in this Food Brand Design Guest Post series here.


Guest Post: Tom Crean Lager, Dingle Brewing Company

While I was in Dingle last weekend as part of the Dingle Food Festival I got to visit the newly opened Dingle Brewing Company whose single brew – the Tom Crean lager – is already being brewed at full capacity despite only being launched in July. The brand and its application across a variety of media is really impressive.

What follows is the story of that brand development by MidPoint Creative in Tralee – written by Steven Ruane. It is long and comprehensive so thanks to Steven for taking the time to share it.

History of Client:

As a start-up this company had no history as such

Initial Brand Status:

We met with the owners of the Dingle Brewing Company at the very start of the project. They informed us of their plans regarding the product, the premises for their business and their business plan.

Objectives of the client:
On meeting the directors of the Dingle Brewing Company we soon discovered that they had a very clear vision. They wanted to produce a premium lager that would appeal to a wide market. One product made right. They wanted their product to be truly Irish and for the Irish. The pub trade in Ireland has been suffering for a number of years and they wanted to produce a product that would bring people back to their local pubs, a product that would be enjoyed in good company and in the warm friendly atmosphere of the local.

They made it clear to us that they were going to produce the product naturally, using only the finest ingredients and with the minimum intervention in the brewing process. They had acquired a premises in which to brew, a premises which was full of character and history and which would fit in perfectly with their values and vision.

Scope of Project:

Create and develop brand identities and supporting material for the overall business and related product(s).

Carrying out research into the brewing and craft beer industry was a big challenge but one we were prepared to make the sacrifice for. Purely for research purposes we had to spend a lot of time in bars. We spent a lot of time staring at beer mats, beer taps, different brand marqs and imagery used in other breweries. We also asked the opinion of bar workers. As the product was going to be only available in bars it was vital that we got their insights into independent breweries and how their customers reacted to same.

Brand Marq Design

At our first meeting we had a long discussion with MD of the Dingle Brewing Company, Jerry O’Sullivan. On that first meeting we also got a tour of the site, ‘site’ being the operative word. We were shown around what used to be the Dingle Creamery building by Jerry. During the site visit, Jerry explained to us his plans for the business and the premises. It was very clear from listening to him speak that he had a crystal clear vision for the project. From a brand building point of view this is the best foundation you could hope for – a strong clear vision. On leaving the site that day we had no doubt that if we could express that vision in a creative way that this would be an extremely interesting project.

With this initial stance we prepared a brand platform document outlining the vision for the venture and setting down the foundations for how we were going to portray and develop this, both strategically and creatively.

As well as this we spend time online researching the brands that had been identified by the stake holders as competitors and benchmarks. We also had the very welcome opportunity to spend a lot of time in Dingle, soaking up the atmosphere and environment of where the brewery would be based

Putting together and distilling all of the information we had gathered on the brewery we were left with the following key impressions

Adding this to the other general research we had done on how other brands visually present themselves we got busy sketching. The image of the brewery building, being situated as it is, at the foot of the Conor Pass in Dingle was hard to escape. Other striking aspects of the brewery were the rich, dark wood casks that were part of the brewing kit and the sound of babbling water for the stream which flowed at the side of the brewery building. These images seemed to encapsulated the feel of the brewery.

The brand marq is made up of representative imagery. The client liked this and felt it fit in better with the ethos and feeling of the brewery. We used simple representations of the major features of the brewery, mainly the landscape and the brewing cask. We wanted to give the overall impression that this was Dingle itself being passed through the brewery and brought, via the lager, to the end customer. We kept the imagery simple and uncomplicated to reflect how the Dingle Brewing Company intended brewing. We also had to keep in mind that this brand marq was going to be scaled up and down for use on everything from large outdoor signage to small merchandise items. With one or two small adjustments the client was happy with the brand marq.

Support Material

With the brand marq signed-off we started working on developing he identity. As mentioned one of the memorable images we had of the brewery was the dark wood that the casks were made of and which was accented as part of the brewery building itself. We decided to use an image of this wood as a backdrop for the brand marq and as a background for the associated marketing material. It worked well with the darkness of the wood providing a good contrast against the mainly white brand marq. It also gave a good indication of the atmosphere of the brewery for those who would see the material without having visited the brewery.

We also got to work on other supporting material, from outdoor and ambient signage to flyers and brochures right across the board to t-shirts and other merchandise that would be available in the brewery gift shop.

At the moment we are just finalising the web site design and hope to have this online in a couple of weeks. We, and more importantly, the client, are very happy with how it is shaping up and are looking forward to seeing the reaction it gets from users.

Product Branding

The guys at the brewery had a very simple business plan. Instead of going fo a range of products they were going to produce one product and put all effort and concentration into making that product a premium one. They had decided to brew a lager and they were going to name it after local hero, Tom Crean. We were delighted with this name. Through his many feats of bravery and endurance Tom Crean had reached almost mythical status. The fact that he was from nearby Annascaul, Co. Kerry gave the name all the more relevance and resonance. We felt that there would be great creative scope here to create a really memorable identity for the lager and the supporting material.

Tom Crean’s Premium Irish Lager
The Dingle Brewing Company wanted an image that would reflect the care and effort they were putting into getting the lager just right. They also have a great deal of respect fro Tom Crean, the man, and wanted this respected to shine through in the identity.

We set about researching the man. There was so much to this quiet, stoic, character who went from the village of Annascaul to being a valued member of expedition teams for both Scott and Shakleton and ended up being heralded as having carried out the greatest feat of human endurance. After his naval career he quietly retired to his home village where he owned and ran the South Pole in until his death in 1938.

There was a lot we could have worked with but sticking to the ethos of the brewery and the character of the man himself we wanted to make the identity simple, uncomplicated, understated and interesting.

We had thought about a hexagonal shape for the identity, based on the shape of the Polar Medal, 3 of which were awarded to Tom Crean for his various feats. We had not seen many bar taps or identities of this shape and thought it would be a nice way to honour the hero.

As a second option we thought of an explorers compass. The circular shape of a compass also sat well with the brand marq for the brewery.

After discussions with the client we developed the ‘compass’ option. What could be more evocative of discovery and exploration?. We went through many versions of a compass graphic, some too complicated, some too modern. We eventually settled on a very simple version with only the North and South points showing. We placed the compass slightly off centre in a nod to a ships chronometer and to give the feeling the the needle was moving back and forth.

For the name of the lager we wanted to accentuate ‘Crean’s’ It was the vision of the Dingle Brewing Company that the customer would walk in to the bar, nod a t the barman and ask for ‘a pint of Crean’s’ To this end we made ‘Crean’s’ the focus of the identity, with the first name Tom resting in smaller type on top. For the typeface we wanted to used an old fashioned, classic looking, serif font, as would have been seen in newspapers and posters of the time. we felt that using all uppercase letters spoke to the strength and unwielding nature of Tom Crean.

Once we had the main elements decided on we added some distinctive character elements. On reading accounts of Tom Crean there were many comments on how he never asked for much and how much he would enjoy his pipe. We wanted to incorporate this in some way and after playing around with it for a while we used a pipe graphic as the apostrophe in Crean’s.

Another little fun item we added is the 18/35. This has already proved to be a great conversation starter when people see the identity or as they are holding the glass. Was it the year he was born/died? Was it the year of any of his voyages or the year he retired?. In Antarctic conditions and surviving only on 2 sticks of chocolate Tom Crean set of on a 18 hour trek over 35 km, a feat of incredible endurance and all to save the life of his 2 colleagues. We had to mark this in some way, so without much fuss or fanfare we nestled the numbers under his name. It still gives us a kick to see people noticing the number for the first time a theorising about what they mean.

For the colour palette, with the imagery of medals being in our minds we stuck to silvers and golds. We felt these also added to the premium feel that the client was hoping to achieve.

Support Material

Once we had the 2 identities finished we set to work on all manner of support material. Beer mats, bar taps, exterior signage, flyers, tent cards, posters, t-shirts, merchandise, web and social media, even right down to working with the clients on choosing and branding the glass.

Tagline and ‘Footprint’

For the supporting material we need a strong but engaging tagline. Given the provenance of the name of the lager and all that entailed coupled with the entrepreneurial spirit of the guys in the brewery we settled on ‘Discover Crean’s’. Simple and effective, it evokes the imagery associated with exploration while letting people know that this is a new lager worthy of discovery.

We also need a primary image to accompany this tagline on the marketing material. Given Tom’s amazing trek, we decided on using a footprint in the snow. The client was very happy with the footprint image. in one simple image it evokes the mammoth task which Tom crean undertook. The bleakness of the footprint in the snow contrasts nicely with the warm hue of the lager.

it all came together for us when the lager officially launched. The Dingle Brewing Company were aiming for the first brew to be ready mid July and it was. As if fated, Tom Creans birthday is on the 21st of July so after putting our heads together with the client we decided that the only place in the world that this lager should be launched is in the South Pole Inn Annascaul. So on 21st of July 2011 the first pint of tom Crean’s premium Irish lager was poured from the taps in the South Pole Inn, once owned by the great man himself, and the time of the first pour.. well that was twenty five to seven of course i.e 18.35.

Thanks for that Steven. You can see the other posts in this Food Brand Design Guest Post series here.


Guest Post – the evolution of Cathy’s Spelt For Health packaging

The 5th in this series is written by Cathy Whitty, one of the 2 owners of this brand. Happily Spelt for Health won a Joint Gold in the Cake & Breads Mix category at the Blas na hEireann awards last night – adding another to their shelf of awards which also contains a two star Gold Great Taste Award.

Here is Cathy’s post:

We are in business just two years and if we are to continue we needed to take it up a notch. Our old bags were brown paper with a label back and front.

The same great graphic designer has been involved with us from day one and designed and manages our website. Catherine Murray is a completing her degree at the moment. The brown bags were great in the beginning as we didn’t have to order in huge volumes and we could order labels in small batches so it was easier to manage cashflow.

However the downside was the labelling by hand very time consuming; it took an hour to label 100 bags so as our orders started to grow it was just impractical. Also as our flapjacks contain coconut it left little oily stains on the bags.

So once we knew there was enough demand the time had come to get new packaging. We were luck to have a mentor, Lisa Cunningham of Vogue Business Development assigned to us by Wicklow County Enterprise Board.

Lisa looked at our products range, five products, five colour ranges. We were so nervous about going so colourful after our brown bags which we felt were earthy and natural looking. Cathy our graphic designer did several mock ups of different colour schemes, different layouts however the most important thing was that  they all had to complement each other on a shelf.

We had one overall colour and then chose a ten per cent gradient of that colour for the panels which contained writing on each bag. The guaranteed Irish logo is on the back of the bag and we put a photo of Cathy also in a circle so people could identify a person with the brand. (note from Keith – will check this with Cathy as that photo is not evident in this shots!)

Next up was the photograph which is on the front panel of the bag. We are a start up company and on a shoe string budget so we were left to take the photos ourselves. This part was the most frustrating, trying to get the photo just right. We used the surrounding landscape as our backdrop to all the photos. It took many many attempts until eventually we agreed on the photos.

Legislation and food packaging

We though we were ready to print, the design had been finalised, bags proof read and we decided to check that what we were writing on the actual bags complied with the current food safety legislation. The food safety authority were so helpful and read all our labels and it turned out we had to delete so much text from the bags. This could have been a very very costly mistake. A word of warning is get your packaging approved before you print!. Our new bags now comply with EU legislation and we are ready to start exporting in the coming months.

The one day workshop which will be run by Teagasc on October 18th ‘Package your Way to New Markets’ would be well worth attending and could save a lot of headaches if you are redesigning or rebranding your existing packaging!

Thank you for taking the time to share that Cathy – much appreciated.

Her website again: www.cathysspeltforhealth.ie

And on twitter: CathysSpelt


You can see the other posts in this series here.

Guest Post: The design of the Sarah’s Honey brand for Milleeven Fine Foods

Within this lies another tale – how does a daughter or son establish their own identity on an established brand. It needs to be tackled – otherwise they are just doing what their parent(s) did. I have known Eilis Gough (founder of Milleeven Honey) for many years but have never met Sarah her daughter.

However I was aware of Sarah’s products and brand and so asked Philip Darling from Concept Choice to do a guest post on how the brand and packaging came about.

The design of the Sarah’s Honey brand

“Milleeven Fine Foods, based in Kilkenny, Ireland, decided to launch a range of flavoured honey to the market place. They already produce traditional honey products, so wanted something different for the Irish, UK and international consumer.

Branding and Positioning
Our first stage was to work with Tessa O’Connell of Brand Edge, who hosted a branding and positioning workshop for Mileeven and a selected audience type, from retail buyers to consumers. The day was really useful in identifying the perceived view of honey products, company reputation, qualities and indeed what the ‘modern’ consumer was looking for in honey. We also knew that the UK marketplace was very competitive, with massive marketing budgets to push their products.

We looked at what made Mileeven different, things that the large companies couldn’t claim with any real consumer believability, a love of honey and a hands on involvement from an ‘artisan’ family producer. Once these values and propositions were marked up on the flip chart, coupled with the wonderful mother and daughter story, ‘Sarah’s Honey’ (the daughter’s name) was realised and born. The name and spirit of the brand fitted, was true and gave a real point of difference from their competitors.

Packaging and Labelling practicalities
The next stage, was to look at the packaging practicalities and labeling of the new brand. Mileeven suggested a lovely glass jar that fitted that homemade ‘story’ and we decided to expand the label area to give it more shelf presence. A teardrop shape was conceived which had a secondary subtle effect, of ‘flowing’ honey.

Many typefaces were considered in the logo make-up but we settled on a ‘hand drawn’ effect which fitted well. A series of little watercolour illustrations were commissioned, again as if Sarah herself had created these for her ‘homemade’ production line. Each product also featured a different coloured border to assist content recognition and words such as ‘scrummy’ and ‘passionate’ to enhance the ingredient descriptions within.

Telling the Story – Video

As with any brand, the packaging is just part of the consumer experience, so to really extend the story, we conceived, shot and produced a video entitled ‘Sarah’s World’. Filmed over a couple of days on their farm (and in-between the showers) we created an atmospheric movie that showed Sarah within a rural environment, taking time out, writing, painting and collecting ingredients for her honey recipes. The whole video was then edited to look like a homemade super 8 film and wonderful music score commissioned to complement the visuals.

We also photographed Sarah and the full range of products for use on POS, PR, web and exhibition use. Some shots were taken quickly to capture a spontaneous feel, others took much longer to ensure everything was perfect in presentation. We also sourced vintage props and had lots of help from Eilis with family heirlooms and tablecloths.

The packaging, photography and video was then displayed in the London Food Fair of which they received lots of positive feedback and most importantly, samples requests and advance orders.

Overall, we really enjoyed the project, from brand generation right though to the packaging, photography and video. It was great too, to work with a client prepared to listen, trust and get involved in the marketing of the brand.

Philip Darling, Creative Director of Concept Choice


Great to see the exploration of the positioning using primary and secondary research right at the beginning of this project and also the extension into other media.

You can see the other food packaging guests posts in this series here.


Guest Post: Metalman, the design of their brand

The third in this series comes from David Manser of VitaminStudio.ie who is responsible for the design of the brand, packaging and other elements of the Metalman Brewing who started up in Waterford, Ireland in 2011.

This is what David had to share about the process:

The Story of the MetalMan Brewing Branding

I first heard from the infectiously enthusiastic Gráinne and Tim back in August 2010 (has it really been a year??!!). I immediately decided that I wanted this gig, so I set about putting together a proposal that was the very best I could make it. Thankfully, Gráinne and Tim liked what they saw, so in what was to become quite a regular occurrence, we celebrated our new association over a pint in Geoff’s, Waterford.


The first step was to get together a mood board for the three of us to go through and get a feel for likes and dislikes and maybe start to feel out a direction for the branding. It really didn’t take long, we all clicked pretty much straight away. Gráinne and Tim had pretty early on decided that they wanted an art-deco inspired theme from the branding.

Most of my research went off to the dark and dingy corners of the Art Deco movement, far removed from the rather beautiful Cassandre travel posters that immediately spring to mind when mentioning Art Deco! I loved the idea of giving the brand an aged, antique feel but applying modern computer techniques to its production.

Initial Concepts

The next step was to begin sketching and refining the scattergun of ideas down to three cohesive directions. The name Metalman inspired some fairly far out (and sometimes plain scary!) directions ala Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. We felt that idea was just too obvious and probably intimidating!

We also hit an issue in that a Tramore family have actually trademarked the MetalMan. I was secretly quite glad, as the Metalman strikes quite a camp pose! We decided that a figurative logo was probably not going to work so moved away from that into a good, strong typographic logo with embellishment to give the right look and feel.

Colour Scheme

The next step was to get the colour schemes agreed. I have a very simple approach to colour. It’s such a subjective thing that I tend to take a back seat and simply advise and suggest. There are of course some colour schemes that I would definitely advise for and against, but when it comes down to it, if the client is committed to a scheme that isn’t inappropriate for the application then I’m always happy to go with it.

As is proper, the artwork evolved from pencil sketches through to Adobe Illustrator vector work and finally into Photoshop where the fun stuff happens! To finalise the project, we presented Gráinne and Tim with a full suite of logo artwork to suit all applications from print to embroidery to signage to web and beyond.

We added an element of flexibility into the design by producing versions that would work in restrictive spaces. When it comes to logo artwork, I always figure that it’s best to try and anticipate problems and provide solutions rather than leave it up to individual end-users to try and fix it their way. That’s how inconsistency creeps in!

From Logo to Collateral

Once the logo was finished we moved on to font heads, beermats, posters, flyers etc. Having gone through the logo development, we all had a very good feel for the brand and to date, the work has rolled out at a rate of knots. Kinda appropriate being that next seasonal brew we were tasked with branding was Windjammer, a rather delicious pale amber beer released for the Tall Ships festival in Waterford.

It’s been a genuine pleasure to get to know and work with Gráinne and Tim. I genuinely enjoy working on their stuff and I look forward to many more brainstorming/new brew tasting sessions in their company!

Dave Manser

Thanks to Dave for that and need to line up another guest post now – if you know of a designer who wants to share their work on an Irish artisan brand design let me know 🙂


Guest Post: The story of the Eight Degrees packaging design

A photo from Caroline caught my eye a couple of weeks ago, it was of the packaging for the just launched Eight Degrees craft brewery range:

I liked it a lot and so it gave me the shove I needed to organise my first guest post. And so Erik Johansson kindly wrote the story of the brand for me. This is he

and this is his post.

When the Green Man met Scott & Cam:

I answered the phone one day in August 2010 to soft antipodean voice of Scott Baigent – a Kiwi living in North Cork. He told me about how he and his business partner Cameron Wallace, an Aussie, had received support from the Ballyhoura Enterprise Board to open a microbrewery in Mitchelstown and would I be interested in creating a brand for them? He didn’t have to ask me twice! Branding and Beer – Perfect!

I immediately set to researching the beer market and it took me to the Microbreweries in the guys native Australia and New Zealand as well as the U.S. where the industries are well established and thriving.  During the many student summers I spent in the U.S, the locals would comment on how Ireland had so many great beers. In reality, at the time, you could count all the Irish beers on one hand.

In America however, the brewing industry was thriving and most small towns would have at least one or two local breweries producing some amazing brews; ales, wheat beers, porters, reds and some unusual seasonal brews. My favourite beer was Number Nine – an apricot beer from the Magic Hat brewing Company in Vermont. The memory I have of all of these beers was not only the taste but the strong and individual personality behind each of them. They had something special. You got a sense that the people behind the brewing of the beers were passionate about what they did and did it for the love of it. Passion and determination…
So How does a brand develop from a phone call to a six-pack in the fridge?

It started with the perfect brief. It read something like this:

“The brewery will be called Eight Degrees Brewing Company and will produce a range of 4-5 Ales ranging from a Pale Ale, Amber Ale through to a Porter.  The company name originates from the longitude of Ireland (8 degrees west of Greenwich), but nicely coincides with the ideal temperature to serve our beers. Our catch phrase is ‘Naturally Adventurous’ which nicely pulls together the main values of the business: natural ingredients and different flavours that will appeal to the adventurous in spirit.”

So with images of thirsty mountaineers in mind the creative process began. Doodle, draw, design and more design, Scott and Cam selected their iconic 8 Degrees brandmark that would brandish each of their beers. And then to naming their adverturous beers.

For anyone who has every tried to name anything, you know what I am talking about… The process involved the lot of fun, pots of coffee, home made cookies, and a large canvas of yellow stickies. The finalists survived the age-old rivalry of Aussies v’s New Zealand, with any vague bias to one being swiftly caught and vetoed by the other. In the end it was Howling Gale Ale, Knockmealdown Porter, Sunburnt Irish Red and Pioneer Ginger Beer that made the cut.

Names and brandmark in hand the design of the bottle labels were the perfect platform to show off their unique brand personality. Irishness was important, so the tale of the lads being lured to Ireland, as so many before, by Ireland’s best cailins, was told. Their Aussie/New Zealand sense of fun  came through in their thirst provoking tasting notes. This week we have finalized the six pack carriers – don’t forget to read the underside! And the website is currently in development.

The Result….
Eight Degrees Brewing Co was officially launched at the Franciscan Well Easter Beerfest in Cork City in April this year and the first commercial batch of Howling Gale Ale was very well received. My first sip was not just good…it was great. The taste brought me back to those halcyon summers days of my college years, a welcome antidote to the banality of mass produced beers. Cheers guys!


Eight Degrees Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/eightdegreesbrewing

The Green Man Studio Website: www.thegreenmanstudio.com

If I can get my ass in gear we will be treated to more of these guest posts 🙂