Crit* Before and After San Miguel 1516

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San Miguel 1516 is a Spanish brand of premium beer that is founded on the principles of the Germanic purity law of 1516 which identifies water, malt, hops and yeast as the only four ingredients to be used in beer production.

The product’s new packaging solution, already an award winner, was created by independent and international creative design agency Design Bridge and launched, throughout Spain with a new campaign, during April."The previous packaging wasn't playing the role of a premium flagship in the San Miguel portfolio. Consumers confused San Miguel 1516 with a strong beer whereas it is actually a Pilsner Lager. The new design has been tested and the results clearly indicate a significantly higher overall evaluation among consumers. In addition the new shape of the bottle is liked, combined with crafted detail the results are an attractive and eye-catching design.”Grupo Mahou-San MiguelDesign Bridge stripped back the design, letting the purity of the beer speak for itself. The bottle's new profile mirrors curve of the San Miguel logo.

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In place of a large label the name 1516 has been embossed on the glass with the message 'according to the law of purity' offering a self-assured, bespoke finish to appeal to the brand’s sophisticated consumers.- Design BridgePerhaps as a reference to the Conquistadors of the 15th, 16th and 17th century, the original design featured a distinctive and heavy handed use of gold, a treatment that has become a fast track route to perceived quality. Saturation, due to lower print-finishing costs and subsequently disingenuous usage, left the bottle looking unsophisticated and far less premium in a growing and increasingly selective market. Design Bridge’s solution truly strips back this tired aesthetic and places far more weight on a proprietary structural design over conventional graphic design. The brand, built around time as a resolution of experience and knowledge from which quality is derived, has been distilled into a new structural design that ties the product far more tangibly to 16th century craft by mixing contemporary manufacturing processes with traditional bottle aesthetics, while cross pollinating three dimensional design cues emerging from the premium spirit range (see Design Bridges work for Plymouth Gin) and dropping the heavy use of gold foil.

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A smart combination of fuller shoulders and a broader neck gives the bottle a proud masculine stature and the beer a robust and hearty character while the raised and stacked composition of a tighter serif and slab serif details delivers a traditional craft-like aesthetic that is unapologetic in its simplicity and clear in its historic reference. The label-free front panel really makes the most of the rich brown tone of the glass, compliments the warm amber of the beer and offers a clear view through the bottle emphasising an unmatched purity.

Like the shoulders, neck and raised details of the new bottle the label has a far more of a proprietary shape and mixes graphic assets such as a simplified seal, a red, white and black colour platte and a very subtle gold highlight to contribute to a heraldic/royal sensibility that resonates well with the idea of exceptional quality. Its weightier typography, reduced content and simple vertical layout appear confident in the structural design’s ability to communicative the proposition, a direction that is also reflected in the self assured absence of the word ‘Premium’.

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Design Bridge has infused an authentic representation of a 16th century brewing technique into a 19th century brand for the 21st century market. It offers an iconic aesthetic without the saturated premium cues of the category through a contemporary retrospective understanding of structural design that draws the line at false glass impurities and varying wall thicknesses while retaining the right amount of historical influence.

Opinion by Richard Baird

@richbaird