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InspirationNov 08, 2022

Type-forward, bright and bold packaging help sale of Cliffside's Craft Beers soar

By BC-based design studio Leechtown Design


Cliffside Brewing Co. asked for a fairly dramatic label makeover to increase the brand’s visual appeal and help it stand out in retail locations.

The goals were simple and direct:

  • Every beer should have an individual look and feel.
  • The colours should be bold and saturated.
  • The direction should feel fun, striking and unlike anything else.

Their original packaging used a templated system with a dark colour scheme that made their releases indistinguishable. Distributors struggled to move products despite positive flavour reviews and reputation. As a result, their beers were getting sidelined in liquor outlets, which impacted sales.


Cliffside was ready for something bold. We presented them with three design directions based on their creative brief. They chose a typography-forward design featuring fun, commanding letterforms. This approach was not being used in their markets and immediately felt different. Strong colour choices inspired by vintage candy packaging and advertising encouraged people to pick them out of crowded beer coolers. We designed the label line-up like a "family portrait" with each beer feeling completely stand-alone in its quirks and personality, yet also part of the overall tonal feel of the entire set. Pattern, texture and elements associated with the various beer styles rounded out the picture. 

Cliffside wanted bold design to take centre stage and backgrounded their branding to the side portions of labels. They knew their clientele would pick up interesting, offbeat labels and wonder who made them.


Over 70% of craft beer drinkers make choices based on packaging alone and they felt confident that leading with spicy design would do just that. Liquor reps were more excited to carry their new line, feedback in the taproom and over socials was positive and they created a new line of sour beers to respond to the positive demand. Cliffside now has a strong, competitive and flexible identity they can grow with and redefine as time goes on.

Fun fact! Cliffside operates in Nanaimo, BC. Leisure Suit Lager refers to the garish clothing style of infamous former Nanaimo mayor Frank Ney. Going "full Nanaimo" refers to being flamboyantly (if cluelessly) dressed and is a well-known local expression.

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