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Fancy a pint?

Jul 17, 2018 | Branding, Communication, Design

One of my favourite pages on Facebook is Great Big Story. They make great short form documentaries about the human condition (among other things) It is always a great source of inspiration or distraction – depending on whether I am in procrastination mode.

I came across a film the other day that piqued my interest as it featured a story about two of my favourite things:

Design and Beer.

I love walking into a pub and seeing the array of pumps and taps on the bar.

At one end of the scale you have the mega brands like Guinness and Heinken – their state of the art taps bristle with technology and shine brightly like neon-lit totems guaranteed to pour the perfect pint.

At the other end of the scale are the traditional manual beer pumps with their simple pump clips attached to the handles which illustrate whether it’s Thrapstons Old Bewilderer* or Jessups Golden Throat Warbler* on offer.

In between are the taps, most bars will have a few of them on a brass frame with often just an illuminated badge to identify them but If you have ever been to a bar in America, you will know that they like a fancy tap handle.

In some cases the bigger and more unusual the better.

Brewers know the beer tap is not purely functional. It is a perfect opportunity for them to communicate something about their beer in a unique sculptural three dimensional form, far more powerfully than a small two dimensional graphic.

Visual cues such as the colour, shape and size of the tap can communicate from a distance expressing the identity of the brewer or an aspirational attribute of the beer. In an international market these visual cues transcend language.

As I see it there are essentially three reasons you might choose one brand over another:

Trust: You actively seek out your favourite and tend not to deviate from it. This is of course the highest level of loyalty.

Familiarity: You have tried it before and you like it. You ask for it by name.

Awareness: You have head of it before, either through recommendation or you have seen it advertised else where. You look for the visual cues (the name, the symbol or logo).

Curiosity: You are open to something new. There is something about the pump badge and tap that has attracted you and you make a decision to try it out.

Drinkers will often leave the decision about what beer to buy right until the point of purchase – when they get to the bar so they will be looking for markers and cues to help them make a decision and this could be something as simple as beer pump shaped like a hammer.

“Our taps sell the first beer. Your beer sells the rest.”

At the end of the day it is the product that is most important. Whatever the industry, if the product is no good, no amount of fancy marketing or quirky point of purchase gimmickry will get people to come back for more and that is the big lesson that I took from a short film about beer taps.


*These may well be made up names

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