The East London Liquor Company rebrand by Ragged Edge goes against the “botanical bathtub bullshit” of craft booze

The design studio overhauled everything about the drinks brand’s image to stand out in a homogenous market.

Date
12 October 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read

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“I’m not sure people are sick of craft, but I do think the tropes are so overdone as to have become meaningless,” Ragged Edge’s Max Ottignon tells It’s Nice That on his studio’s rebrand for The East London Liquor Co. This includes bigger brands adopting the visual language of craft, he says, meaning “everything in the whole category, from indie spirits to global brands, just looks and sounds the same.” The studio, therefore, looked to oppose these tropes in its design, with a strategy that bravely aimed to “pick a fight with the ‘botanical bathtub bullshit’ of the craft movement” and create something that stood out from said crowd.

This all came about as ELLC was looking to distance itself from the expensive craft spirit market and boost its supermarket sales as opposed to relying so heavily on pubs and bars – for obvious reasons – so its new packaging had to be eye-catching and different on shop shelves. Ragged Edge’s design concept dispenses with the decorative and traditional former branding and adopts a simpler, more shouty and irreverent new look. Ottignon describes it as “brutally stripped back” in order to grab attention and signal a completely different approach. “Our aim was to make something distinct… the direct opposite of the ornate design language and absurd verbosity of the category.”

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Ragged Edge: East London Liquor Company rebrand (Copyright © East London Liquor Company, 2020)

It means the rebrand hinges heavily on type, with the design and copywriting intending to channel its “unpretentious, unabashed” new personality. “We wanted the brand to be able to speak in a way that was provocative without being off-putting,” describes Ottignon. The studio worked with Berlin-based NaN Foundry to develop a custom typeface for ELLC that features glyphs discovered on walls of the local area of its namesake East London, and inspired by the company’s distillery and production process. For example, a “smiler” icon was inspired by an old crest found in nearby Victoria Park, and incorporates the Thames to make a smiley emoji. Adding these alternate glyphs into the letter set “played to heritage cues in a way that felt very different from the traditional approach,” Ottignon says.

As for the rest of the identity, colours – including flourishes of neon yellow – and illustrated graphics were kept bold and simple, again a contrast to the typically “fussy” language of the sector. And photography by Charlie McKay also captures the brand’s newfound attitude, with art direction Ottignon describes as having “candid immediacy… This is not a product that needs to be styled within an inch of its life, it’s designed to be drunk”.

GalleryRagged Edge: East London Liquor Company rebrand (Copyright © East London Liquor Company, 2020)

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Ragged Edge: East London Liquor Company rebrand (Copyright © East London Liquor Company, 2020)

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on jb@itsnicethat.com.

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