“Don’t Compromise”—Creuna Shares how they Designed the Luxe Look of Krone Beer

Global agency Creuna believes customer experiences are created when design, tech, and communication collide. With a focus on the consumer and a large, talented team, they aren’t afraid to take bold leaps and challenge the typical. Case in point: Krone, a beer that looks beautiful, is incredibly clever, and and says a lot without having to say much at all.

What: Beer that will make you feel like royalty.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Creuna: The client, Norbrew, came to us with a very open brief and a limited budget. They wanted to launch a new national organic beer brand, that was to compete with the big established beer brands that Norwegian retailers offers today. Brands like Hansa, Ringnes, Tuborg, Carlsberg, etc. In Norway advertising beer and alcohol is illegal and therefore the design of the product is critical. This was an ideal and exciting situation where we could build everything from the bottom up—name, logo, branding and packaging—and with a client that was very open minded and confident enough to take some chances.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Krone packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Creuna: The goal was to create a beer design that stands out in an extremely crowded and competitive market and be bold, yet with elegant simplicity. The design had to find the balance between daring to challenge the commercial market with an unconventional design while still having just enough beer tradition to compete against the established brands. I’ve always been inspired by beautiful glass beverage packaging and had an early ambition to try to find a unique bottle concept that could help Krone achieve this goal.

Both the cans and bottles feel like royalty. What design elements did you choose to highlight that part of the brand's identity?

Creuna: The name Krone, which is Norwegian for Crown, and gold logo treatment with the flipped “E” help give that feeling of royalty. The gold tops also reinforce the “crown” feeling along with the simplicity and elegance of the overall design.

Why did you go with this particular font choice?

Creuna: We wanted a clean and simple sans-serif font and also wanted to avoid the typical organic look. We tested quite a few bold fonts to see which felt best with the name Krone and also looked for a font where the E could work well as the crown without having to modify it much. A font that had similar height and width meant that we didn’t need to shrink the E in size when it was turned.

Why did you decide to use real gold for the packaging, and how did this affect production or costs? Was there anything special you had to consider using this material?  

Creuna: We wanted to avoid having a transparent sticker on the bottle since this would interfere with the tactility of the frosted glass. We also wanted to have a gold colour that actually looked like gold so the printers suggested silk-screening real gold directly onto the bottles. We had two prototypes made—one with real gold and one without. The one with gold had a higher production cost. Over the phone the client said that the gold printing would be too expensive and cut into their margins, but when he saw the prototype he was convinced that we had to have gold silk-screening.

How did you determine the color palette and gradients for Krone?

Creuna: Since this was a somewhat non-traditional design for a beer that was to compete with bigger established brands, we wanted colours that are traditionally associated to pilsner and bayer—green and brown. The range was later extended to cans of IPA, and Pale Ale where we chose colours that in Norway are often associated to those types of beers. Gold is also a classic colour treatment associated with beer tradition and of course suited the name. Muted colours and gradients along with the the matt treatment gave the series a subtle organic feel and elegance.

How did you go about embracing minimalism while avoiding the usual cliched simple look of crisp whites and clean lines?  

Creuna: The beer is made with four natural ingredients and this simplicity is reflected in the design. We stripped away all that wasn’t essential giving a sense of purity and putting typography, colours and materials in focus. By choosing a traditional beer name and colours, we had more freedom to create an unconventional design using a minimalist approach.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Creuna: Making the frosted bottles a reality. I had never seen a frosted beer bottle in Norway or anywhere else, so was unsure if it was possible to do this, also at a cost that was acceptable. To add to the challenge we didn’t want any kind of label on the bottle. We had to do a lot of research and testing with various manufacturers to see if it all was possible to do it technically and at a reasonable cost. We almost gave up several times until we eventually found a solution.

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Creuna: I’m proud that the initial idea and vision stayed uncompromised and was carried through to all aspects of the job—from the logo and branding to the packaging and all the details in between. We were able to stay to true to the concept and make incrementally improvements throughout the process, instead of incremental compromises which is often the case.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Creuna: This may be obvious, but don’t compromise on an idea you really believe in when faced with production challenges, costs or other push back. Invest a little more into research to find a way to bring the idea to life. And if you’re lucky enough to have a client that is open-minded and appreciates the value of design then you have a pretty good chance of making it happen!

Why we love it: Without the option for advertising the beer (since it’s illegal), the packaging for Krone truly would make or break it. While the approach is simple, you get the sense that no details were overlooked—the “E” flipped on its side to look like a crown and the gold tops to the cans and bottles, for example. Every design element has a purpose behind it, and it’s executed meticulously. Plus, real gold? It doesn’t get more luxe than that.