Metalman Brewing Company

Introduction

Metalman is a microbrewery in Waterford with a mission to bring a wider beer selection to Ireland. The company had humble beginnings in 2011 when they started contract brewing at another brewery in Tipperary. Now, they produce all of their beer out of the 24HL Metalman brewhouse in Waterford city.

Metalman came to exSite seeking a refresh of their existing website and assistance with PR. They also asked us to create beer can labels for a new collection of retro space exploration-themed beer.

Website

Our first task was to refresh Metalman’s existing website, on a tight budget. Metalman wanted to keep their site’s clean and colorful aesthetic but improve the overall visual design. Their site lacked clear calls to action and was difficult to navigate at times.

The new design stays true to the brand’s identity by using brand colors for call-to-action buttons throughout the site. It also prominently features the Metalman logo, as well as images of their beers and brewery, throughout the site.

A key part of the redesign was the homepage’s hero section. Originally, there was little visual hierarchy. We highlighted their slogan, “Microbrewed beer from Waterford City”, and added call-to-action buttons. These served to anchor the design and create a stronger impact when users first arrive on the site.

To highlight the product more effectively, we replaced cropped images that only showed the product partially with full images of the beer cans.

One of the redesign’s biggest goals was to create a clear, singular place for customers to purchase beer. Metalman’s original site contained links to multiple third-party sites where customers could shop. To streamline this, we removed the links, created clear “shop now” call-to-action buttons, and added e-commerce functionality to the site.

Top: The hero section of Metalman’s original home page. Links for various buying options feel out of place and distracting, and the slogan is pushed off to the side. Bottom: In the new hero section, the slogan “Microbrewed beer from Waterford City” is front and center, with several clear call-to-action buttons directing the customer to browsing and purchasing options.

Top: On the original site, only partial can labels were visible when browsing through different offerings. Bottom: On the new site, full can images are visible, and the “buy now” call-to-action button is emphasized.

On the back end, we transferred the website’s hosting to a new platform. We also eliminated faulty and outdated elements that were weighing the website down, keeping load speeds at a minimum.

Packaging Design

Initial Iterations

Metalman also came to exSite for the creation of labels for a new series of beers, themed after retro space exploration. Metalman wanted to completely depart from their 1920’s art deco aesthetic for this range.

Our initial inspiration came from vintage travel posters, for locations on Earth and throughout the galaxy! After creating a mood board, two general themes emerged. Some posters had a more realistic approach with scenes of nature and travelers. Others had a geometric, abstract approach, with collages of simple shapes making a larger image. Our two initial concepts were based on these two themes.

The “Rover” concept recreates a classic vintage travel poster with a semi-realistic rendering of a Martian landscape. Borders and text around the image add to the feel of a poster.

From top to bottom: High-fidelity drafts of the “Rover” concepts, with dark and light iterations and various text placement. Additional sketches.

The “Stratosphere” concept mimics abstract, geometric designs, relying more on typography for a retro feel.

From top to bottom: High-fidelity draft of the “Stratosphere” concept. Additional sketches.

Second Drafts

Metalman ultimately preferred the more geometric approach. Moving forward, they wanted the design to look more mature, and to add complexity to the composition of the design. They identified a specific poster from our mood board that they were especially drawn to, and wanted to take more inspiration from.

Metalman liked the complexity and layering of this vintage NASA poster, and wanted to draw more inspiration from it.

At this point, they also settled on the name “Galactic Voyager” for the series, and the names “Cosmic Horseshoe”, “Giant Molecular Clouds”, and “Gravitational Wave” for the three beers. Metalman wanted each beer to have a unique design reflecting the name of the flavor, but were also concerned about having designs that were too complex, in case they wanted to expand the line in the future.

Our solution to this problem was to create a simple visual language for the series that could be used over and over again to create different abstract compositions. The “rules” for this visual world are:

  1. That everything is made out of rectangles and circles.
  2. That each composition is inspired by a real-life image or realistic artist rendering of the phenomenon that gave each flavor its name.
  3. That each design includes the same spaceship, or galactic voyager, flying through the scene.

Additionally, each design has a limited color palette and the same placement of text and logos, which help to unify the series and place further constraints on future designs.

Left: Real images or artist renderings that were used as inspiration for the geometric designs. Right: Initial iterations of Cosmic Horseshoe, Giant Molecular Clouds, and Gravitational Wave.

To help integrate the Metalman brand into the 1950’s-60’s style of the designs, we also created an alternate logo that was harmonious with the visual world of our designs. It incorporates the same typography as the rest of the can, but also calls back to the wing shapes of the original Metalman logo. To help with brand recognition, we featured the original Metalman logo on the back of the can as well.

Left: Alternative Metalman logo, featured on the front of the cans. Right: Original Metalman logo, featured on the back of the cans.

Final Product

After some revisions to flesh out the designs and ensure the labels complied with legal requirements, we arrived at the final iterations! The first flavor in the Galactic Voyager Series, Giant Molecular Clouds, is out now. And the voyage has only just begun! We look forward to continuing the Galactic Voyager concept to other cans in the series.

Final iterations of Cosmic Horseshoe, Giant Molecular Clouds, and Gravitational Wave.

PR

Metalman’s PR brief for Phase 1 of the campaign was clear – increase brand awareness and launch the new Galactic Voyager Space Series.

To deliver this on a tight budget and timeline, our communications partner, leading independent agency Dynamics PR, developed a strategic approach to claim a share of voice in a cluttered market. Working closely with designers at exSite and Metalman’s social media company Marla to ensure an optimal 360 outcome, Puffin and her team at Dynamics PR delivered both business and product-focused results on a national platform in high-impact gold print titles, and online, targeting key bloggers, podcasters and influencers in the all-important craft beer fan base.

The PR pitch had several elements: Dynamics PR packaged and framed Metalman’s 10 years in business and the owners’ backstory into a compelling narrative. Details of the new Galactic Voyager range and interesting product shots completed the press pack. They also ensured key print and online writers received samples of the range to try for themselves. The last vital ingredient was their little black book of media contacts which they leveraged to achieve targeted and effective campaign results.

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