Inside Carlsberg's new sustainability-driven packaging and brand identity

When planning for the new brand identity, Carlsberg drew directly from its heritage.

After a massive promotion drive to relaunch its beer as a quality Danish pilsner in the United Kingdom, Carlsberg turned its attention to the Asia Pacific last week, when it held an experiential marketing event in Singapore.

The activation allowed beer-lovers to experience Carlsberg’s next phase of its “Pursuit for Better” mission, which includes a focus on minimising the environmental impact, as well as its new packaging and brand identity.

Taking The Drum through its sustainability efforts and new packaging, which picked up The Grand Prix at The Drum Design Awards 2019, Olivier Dubost, the general manager of Carlsberg Singapore, says that with the brand identity refresh, Carlsberg is not changing the brand, but building on its unique history and the company’s heritage and strong purpose.

He adds that it represents a moment within a constant reappraisal and refinement of all aspects of the Carlsberg brand, to improve and provide a better beer enjoyment experience.

“The Carlsberg logo has stayed the same despite constant technological innovations over the past 100 years to improve our beer and drinking experience,” Dubost explains.

“We have been making great beer for 170 years and in all that time, Carlsberg has always stayed true to our founder’s Golden Words of always striving for a ‘constant pursuit of the better’- guiding how we look, behave and the values we consistently live by.”

He continues: “While our brand is a recognisable mark, we wanted to challenge ourselves with how we can bring the brand positioning to life visually, while reflecting the innovation we have been doing to stay relevant to a new generation of ever more sophisticated beer drinkers.”

When planning for the new brand identity, Carlsberg drew directly from its heritage to balance simplicity with contemporary design across its products, packaging, communications, visibility and amenities as part of its continual journey to refine itself and experiment for a better tomorrow.

“While the brand looks modern and new, our beer is still brewed with the same natural ingredients and the same attention to quality that gives Carlsberg that same great taste,” he adds.

Every aspect of the identity, which was created by Carlsberg in-house team in the UK, and design agencies Bristol, Taxi Studio, and Tom Lane, was carefully re-crafted to strike the perfect balance between form and function, to ensure its improved look without compromising on the consumer experience, according to Dubost.

The question Carlsberg posed to its agencies was: How could Carlsberg drop its cheap and cheerful demeanor for a more intelligent and sophisticated one, as global, mass-produced beer brands are now constantly competing with craft beers, their illustration-heavy packaging and much cooler personalities?

He reveals that the teams sat together and deliberated on how best to present Carlsberg in a refreshed manner, and points out that understanding the brand’s legacy while appreciating how Carlsberg wants the brand to go forward is foundational to this effort.

“The agency cleverly interpreted our brief to honour Carlsberg’s rich heritage, reflect our innovations and also be in step with our supportive existing and new consumers,” he explains.

“It was important for us that the new design remained faithful to the brand’s heritage, while being timeless enough to last into the future. We would consider the process to be relatively smooth as the agency was able to understand our considerations for this brand refresh that would focus on introducing the beer anew to our existing and new customers while not compromising on quality and the consumer experience of our brew.”

The focus on minimising the environmental impact will see Carlsberg switch to the Cradle to Cradle silver ink on its bottle label that is produced using renewable energy.

According to Carlsberg, the ink will help improve the recyclability of packaging, as it does not contain paper fibers that cannot be reprocessed. A new coating of wax emulsion concentrate will also be applied to Carlsberg’s refillable glass bottles that help to double its lifetime.

The coating reduces scuffing which extends the bottles’ longevity, allowing them to look new and more scratch-resistant longer, reducing the need for it to be replaced and disposed of easily.

Carlsberg has also designed Fresh Cap that reduces oxidation and premium-looking stem glasses that allow for a smoother pour and more aromatic beer. It also introduced Easy-to-Open packs to allow consumers to access their beers easily.

Dubost explains that from its yeast and barley to its packaging and glassware, Carlsberg believes it must always be possible to do things better because excellence through a commitment to incremental improvement is the brand’s daily motivation.

He adds that it inspires Carlsberg as individuals, as a company and as a brand, and is the brand purpose that sits at the heart of everything the brand does.

“In our constant drive to do better, we believe that we should also encourage others to do the same. This involves formulating ideas to make our beer and the way our consumers experience it even better, and ensuring our practices are sustainable to create and ensure a better future for all,” Dubost says.

Dubost notes that while new brand identity and packaging from the UK was introduced together with a new recipe, this will not be done other markets, including Singapore. He explains that the UK’s Carlsberg brew has always been a beer brewed exclusively for the tastes of UK drinkers, and is not the same as the Singapore brew.

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