Since its beginnings in 2015, Leeds-based studio Robot Food has been working with independent brewery, Vocation. Now a new look marks a fresh chapter for the brand as it secures itself as a modern day beer pioneer. 

New packaging uses a variety of bold colours and illustrations to match each beer’s vibe and personality. Robot Food is responsible for the brand’s entire visual identity having started working with then since their founding six years ago. The design studio even came up with the brand name itself! “When we first created the brand it was a startup: now they’re one of the biggest brands in UK craft,” says Simon Forster, founder and executive creative director at Robot Food.

“The craft category is ever-growing and it’s still quite noisy,” adds Rich Robinson, Robot Food senior designer. “Vocation wanted to become better established in the on-trade bar scene, so it was about striking a balance between being brand focused and keeping its craft sensibility at the same time.”

The need for the most recent rebrand was the previous lack of synchronization between the individual beers and the brand names. The logos were almost too individual that customers wouldn’t make the link between a new release and Vocation as a brand. “If there was a new special on tap, people wouldn’t make the connection between Vocation and the Life & Death they’d seen in the supermarket. The brand was getting a bit lost,” says Ben Brears, Robot Food strategic design director. “Part of the challenge was building a bigger brand in the craft beer category, where people are a bit suspicious of big brands: it had to be more prominent, but keep all that excitement, fun and difference of craft beer.”

The aim therefore was to “simplify and amplify” the designs with a fresh wordmark that acts as the primary logo across all brand communications, and a typographic style that pays homage to the brand’s Yorkshire roots with its heavy weighting and visual nods to industrial lettering. The studio has also moved the brand away from its former black core range cans with new packs that use impactful bold colours and illustrations, to add to each beers’ own distinct personality. A new ‘Vocation V’ brand icon is used to support the wordmark and create a frame for the packaging illustrations.

Of course, the colours used on each can are still based on the previous design’s typography to aid the shift. “There’s a familiarity, but as everything’s evolved the brand’s become bigger and stronger,” says Robinson. “We didn’t rip up the rule book—we just upped the weighting.”

The font used is bespoke and created by Lewis McGuffie. Entitled Hebden it is based on Victorian train station signage in the area, in a nod to the brewery’s Yorkshire location. 

The brand tone of voice, meanwhile, is “confident, ambitious and authoritative, but thoroughly down to earth”, tipping its hat to Vocation’s bold flavours and quality.

The new designs can be seen across all touchpoints including packaging, out-of-home campaign materials, digital and social, merchandise such as t-shirts and hats, glassware, in-bar and outdoor promotion such as beer mats, umbrellas and tap lenses.

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