You all know the love I have for can art. It's a whole surface to embrace, screw those limiting little labels, yada yada yada. The thing about canning breweries, though, is that relatively early on they have to make a design decision about how standard their can template is. That is, they need to decide whether to use different designs for different beers, and if so, how different those designs will be from one another. Losing variation can help keep design costs and brand confusion down over time, but it can also be boring.
First, let's look at Santa Cruz, CA's Uncommon Brewers' can for their Baltic Porter:
Let's look at Boulder, CO's Upslope Brewing Co, from the Dieline:
From agency Anthem Branding:
First, they are not kidding about the glut of local craft beer. I was in Boulder for one day during GABF two years ago, and my JimShan and I hit 16 (!) breweries or brewpubs. Yeah. So, it's a crowded market. Upslope is maybe the most "corporate"-looking, design-wise, of the production breweries there. Their logo is sleek and defined, done in one color, and as you can see there's an emphasis on consistency (they just change colors to indicate which beer) rather than variety. Given the hippie culture in Boulder, I actually think it's a good market niche; the look is decidedly modern, restrained (compared to the bold, colorful designs of Avery or even Boulder Brewing) and no one's going to confuse it with Pabst.Our strategy for the Upslope Brewing Company cans was simple: create a compelling design that would immediately differentiate the brand from national labels as well as the glut of local craft beer. Each variety is numbered, and features a signature color against the can’s natural silver. The current varieties include a Pale Ale, IPA and Brown Ale.
The Upslope look is a little similar to the offerings from a mountain town in a different part of the country, Vermont's Moat Mountain Brewing:
One more canning brewery using this is a Washington, DC brewery called DC Brau:
Finally, up in Maine, we have a bit of the other extreme, From Baxter Brewing:
As you can see, the only design template used is the "back panel" with the moose logo. I of course like the Pamola more, because the ridge on the bottom and the moon below the moose actually takes advantage of the entire can as design surface. While I'm sure there's some sacrifice in keeping things different, these designs are lively and simple, using large forms that can easily recognized from a decent distance away from the cooler.