Behind The Brief: Commonwealth Brewing Co. By Thirst

Glasgow agency, Thirst, creates a visceral expression of flavor for a brewery who dares to be different.

INTERVIEW BY CRISTIE STEVENS

First of all, tell us a bit about the studio.

Thirst is a specialist strategy and design studio for the drinks industry. Based in Glasgow, we work with beer, spirits, wine, and softs for brands all around the world (UK, USA, Belgium, Caribbean, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand).

How did the client come to find and hire you?

Like many of our clients, Commonwealth Brewing Co. found us via design blogs. In this particular case, Jeramy, the owner of the brewery, saved various pieces of design work he liked and actually linked them all back to us which was nice.

They came to Thirst with a simple brief ‘I want to be able to see the flavours I taste in the can’.

Can you tell us about the initial project conversations?

In the competitive East American craft beer scene, Commonwealth Brewery was struggling to stand out and stand for something. They knew what they wanted to stand for: taste, but didn’t know how to stand out, so they came to Thirst with a simple brief ‘I want to be able to see the flavours I taste in the can’.

What did your design process look like for this project?

Inspired by this brief, we immersed ourselves in the flavours of the beers. Expressing them first in words, then translating these descriptions into textures by photographing oils, vinegars and inks interacting. The overall look was like nothing else on shelf with all of the bright, bold textures forming a robust range, creating uniformity through eccentricity.

From a textual perspective, when oil interacts with other liquids, it creates sharp and interesting blends/contrasts which we thought would be a great basis to build a suite of textures from.

Can you talk us through the thinking behind the final design?

We have always been fascinated by textures, in particular, liquid. Good-beer can be very complex in flavour, with many levels to it. Oil is one of the fundamental properties of hops, and also a key ingredient in the brewing process.

From a textual perspective, when oil interacts with other liquids, it creates sharp and interesting blends/contrasts which we thought would be a great basis to build a suite of textures from. We believed that by combining these unusual materials we could create interesting, abstract expressions beer’s flavour.

When working with the packaging design itself, we really wanted to celebrate the textures, and not be diluted by “over-designing” the rest of the pack. We decided the best way to balance this was to strip back the typography and reduce weight from the logo to make sure there was no interference or unnecessary noise.

Did you face any challenges during the project?

When trying to capture vivid colourful imagery, the photography looked beautiful on screen, however, when preparing the files for print we lost a lot of that energy. This was particularly challenging, although it was overcome with a little bit of experimentation, and collaboration with the printer.

The first time we held the cans, with all the energy and colour we imagined, was a very cool experience.

What was your favourite part of the process?

We were incredibly excited to be working with a brewery on the east coast of America. The craft beer and design scene is really exciting. We traveled to Virginia Beach to meet the team and drink a few beers once the initial project was completed. The first time we held the cans, with all the energy and colour we imagined, was a very cool experience.

Did the initial concepts differ from the final execution?

It didn’t really. We had to reshoot the textures a few times, just to achieve the result we were looking for. But the overriding concept never changed.

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Behind the Brief is an interview series celebrating the creative process where we speak to the team behind the project, pulling back the curtain on their design thinking, strategy and process to learn how they arrived at the final design.