Student Spotlight: VooBrew

VooBrew is a conceptual beer packaging designed by Hannah Volz who is a senior Graphic Design Communications student at Philadelphia University.

It's an attractive design, but I'm taking this opportunity to critique her work - read more after the jump...


The packaging features 2-color printed natural paper labels on stout round bottles and a wood crate (a bit over-the-top for beer). The styling is traditional, and includes increasingly trendy slab-serif typography. This is a recurring theme in alcoholic beverages and gourmet food. Designers tend to prefer this style since it's expected for the category, making for a relatively safe design approach.

There are two sides to the coin of safe vs. risk-taking when it comes to branding. Safe design really just means time-tested design choices that are proven to be preferred by consumers. You're not rocking the boat and you're marching to the beat of a familiar drum - what the consumer is expecting. This is not a bad idea in many cases. Yet, sometimes you need to tip the boat if you're going to make waves. Breaking the expected norms is one way to do this. Often, it's a careful balance between playing it safe and taking some chances. The most successful brands strike this balance especially well. A great example is Coca Cola - which continues to remain relevant and fresh, while being the brand that consumers expect them to be. Exciting yet familar.

Admittedly, Hannah's work is attractive, balanced and appropriate for the category - all good things in a student project that sets out to acheive a good grade. In the real world, this will often be a good formula and works for the masses of products introduced every day. However, this product's aesthetic would have to be taken to the next level to stand up to its fullest potential.