Established in 2005, Jacobsen is a specialty range of beers owned by Carlsberg Group, named after the parent company’s founder, Jacob Christian Jacobsen. Housed in the original Carlsberg brewery in Valby in Copenhagen, Denmark, and with access to one of the world’s largest yeast collections at Carlsberg’s research center, the brewery operates like a craft brewery (but has the capacity of a larger one) by regularly coming up with new beers, experimenting with flavors and combinations, along with a range of seasonal and fixed offerings. Last year, Jacobsen introduced a new identity and packaging designed by Glostrup, Denmark-based Montdor.
Note #1: This redesign took place in the Summer of 2018, which puts it outside my usual time limit of projects to cover but the design is pretty good and I never received any tips about it at the time, so it had passed unnoticed and I thought it would be good to un-unnotice it.
Note #2: I know you all want the Android review and not a Danish brewery review. It’s coming, but I am waiting for, potentially, additional assets from the design firm involved and this will most likely happen early next week, so you’ll have to exercise patience.
On to the Danish brewery review…
Since its launch in 2005, Carlsberg’s special beer brand Jacobsen has been the market leader in Denmark. But the beer market has changed, and today there are approx. 200 Danish breweries, which in 2018 launched over 1,800 new beers. The new competition had left Jacobsen with a slightly dusty image.
There was a need to relaunch Jacobsen with a completely new visual style and identity. The recognizable core of the Jacobsen bottle, the logo and J.C. Jacobsen’s profile had to be maintained but needed a modern expression. Together with Carlsberg’s experts, the idea arose that taste can also be expressed with shapes and colors. Each beer was analyzed by a sensorist, and the result was converted into a distinctive pattern.
The old logo had some reproduction issues — highly detailed founder profile illustration and low-contrast stroke color on the typography — but had some good bones to it with a funky wordmark and seal-like approach to the illustration on which the new logo was able to evolve on quite nicely. I don’t think many companies, products, or services want an old man displayed on their logo but I guess if it’s a must, this is possibly the best way to do it. The founder’s illustration doesn’t mince with age, putting a good deal of wrinkles and funky facial hair on it and it’s kind of awesome. I thought the texture of the hair was particularly good. But enough about Mr. Jacobsen because what’s even better is the wordmark that builds on the flared serif structure of the old one with a really nice and unique typographic approach that defies categories. Every letter in the name is so well considered and it’s commendable that it works equally well on a straight line as it does on a curve. The final composition of all the elements in a seal looks great and exudes history and legacy (even though it’s only a 14-year-old brewery).
A couple of additional elements add some good sparks through the applications and website. The hop flower in particular is a really nice shape.
The custom type family looks great in both widths, condensed and regular, and has some fun-looking characters, like the “R”s and “K”s. If this typeface were commercially available I would definitely buy it.
Like the old logo, the old bottle was also pretty good in part because of its unique shape which was nicely accentuated by the small label on the bottom. It’s interesting that now that they have a cleaner, more reproducible profile illustration they got rid of the blind emboss on the bottle but in exchange the new bottles more clearly establish what brand of beer this is by making the logo 1,000% more visible. The new, bigger labels still accentuate the bottle of the shape and provide more real estate to expand the visual language of the brewery.
Each Jacobsen has its own pattern. The pattern and the colours of the label speak to the flavour. Each beer variety has its own unique pattern that has been designed based on a sensory analysis. By combining the three basic forms, square, triangle and circle in patterns and using colours that match the sensory expression, the label shows what aromas and flavours lie in store in each beer.
Each beer has its own pattern illustration — some of them are great (like Porter or Extra Pilsner) and some of them are not great at all (like Yakima Ale and Viva Classic) — that together create a visually rich family of beers. Overall I do like it but I wish I liked it more as I appreciate the thinking behind it, that they are based on sensory analysis, but some of the color combinations and resulting patterns start to look too playful and contrast oddly with the more elegant bottle and the detailed logo. Still, a lot to like here.
Overall, this has a nice balance of building on the heritage of the Carlsberg universe and infusing it with a contemporary playful vibe and is able to both look and not look like other craft brewers through its own set of rules.
Thanks to Marc Nijborg for the tip.