Billson’s debuts alcoholic drinks with designs by Cowan London

Australian beverage firm Billson’s has launched its first alcoholic drinks for 70 years, featuring packaging by design agency Cowan London.

In total, four craft beers, four heritage beers, two ciders and an alcoholic ginger beer have been released.

The design of the four traditional beers is a subtle reimagining of the original Billson’s labels from 70 years ago. The most distinctive elements of those designs have been brought to the fore: the ostrich and kangaroo appear on the Prize Ale and flags feature on the Stout label.

“We took away the unnecessary elements, keeping only the parts that resonate today, and reworking them for a modern eye,” said Samantha Dumont, creative director at Cowan London.

“We also retained a sense of imperfection with a nod to the original handcrafted label designs. It’s the contrast of this traditional Australian imagery against the silver cans, with the Billson’s logo written in confident, bold typography that makes these designs pop.”

Meanwhile, packaging for the four craft beers draws inspiration from the brewery itself: a copper kettle for the Pale Ale can, the two chimneys for Lager, a 1950s Chevrolet truck for Golden Ale, and one of the brewery’s collection of horse-drawn carts on the Porter can.

The story behind each item is told on the back of the cans and the range is unified by the use of a vivid colour palette set against a matt finish.

Billson’s marketing manager Julia Vesval said: “Packaging design is critical in beers and ciders. We needed to find a way to convey the rich heritage of Billson’s but in a way that will connect with a contemporary audience.

“We needed a design team imbued with a sense of both Australian culture and cutting-edge craft beer design cues.”

Billson’s was founded in 1865 when Englishman George Billson started making drinks from the Australian Alpine spring water rising from the ground at Beechworth, north-east Victoria. In 2017 new owners came in, inspired by this heritage and eager to breathe new life into the brewer.

The new drinks take the total number of products launched and relaunched since the new owners took over to 39, including new small-batch sodas, which were introduced earlier this year.

“It’s inspiring to be part of a project that’s moving at such a pace,” added Dumont. “It requires a very entrepreneurial approach, with us adapting, developing and building the brand through each design. It’s also incredibly refreshing to be working with a brewery that can credibly play into the world of both heritage and modern craft.”

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