How a Brand Experience Unfolds for

Northern Monk Brewery's Audience

Looking to find out how digital labels are more than "just" an element of packaging? Check out this FANTASTIC read and find out how Northern Monk's beer can labels were a whole new level of brand marketing, benefiting not just them, but thier affiliates, CS Labels and thier loyal followers too!

“Our sales have grown roughly 100% year-on-year,”

“We’re using the labels as a canvas to tell the stories of these incredible people we work with; whether it’s at the brewery, or creatives we want to champion.”
- Brand United 

Northern Monk's Founder / Managing Director Russell Bisset has a background in global sales, and he knew that in order to stand out from the crush of competition, Northern Monk would need to develop beer can labels that would resonate with its target market of young professionals. The year the brewery opened — on the recommendation of a friend — Bisset turned to CS Labels in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, to create Northern Monk’s beer can labels. Ever since then, Bisset and Northern Monk have worked with the printer to develop revolutionary labels that have won industry awards and boosted brand awareness about the brewery.

CS Labels specialize in digital labels, including multi-layer ones. The company also originally offered flexographic printing, but, says CS Labels Operations Director Adam James, “When I started in 2009, there weren’t a lot of good flexo printers.” They abandoned the flexo printer and since then, have purchased 10 digital printers, with five onsite.

Many printing companies have a crossover point where if a job requires less than 2,000 meters of material, they’ll use digital printing; and if it requires more, they’ll use flexo. But when CS Labels eliminated the flexo option, the company had to get creative — and the constraint led it to more and better options for its customers.

“Even if in theory it wasn’t a digital job, we could say to a customer, for example, ‘We’ll make your labels more seasonal. There’s no plate cost, there are no origination costs. So, if you want to do a limited edition run in the middle of your normal cycle of that product, why not? It’s just a bit of artwork.’ And that’s how we sell digital.”

Curiously, though, while CS Labels prints labels for craft beer and cider, the company doesn’t work with other beverages, like sodas — or even mass-produced beer. “Even our single-layer labels are high-end,” explains James. “So if a larger brewery [with a higher output] came to us for labels, they would probably find us too expensive for the price point they need ... whereas, the smaller breweries are more open to the ideas to get that ‘wow’ look when the product is on the shelf.”

Experiential Labels Drive Brand Awareness And Win Awards

CS Labels, of course, has benefited from the innovative labels it’s created for Northern Monk. “Probably 45% of the awards we’ve won over the years have been for Northern Monk labels,” says James. In 2016, for example, the company’s peel and reveal labels won “Best Labels and Packaging” at the FlexoTech Awards.

But you can win all the awards in the world, and it won’t matter if the labels don’t boost awareness, establish your client as a creative leader in the marketplace, and help increase sales. “Our sales have grown roughly 100% year-on-year,” says Bisset. “Patrons Project [beers] are roughly 20% of our output. They tend to sell out before their full release, and are some of the most sought-after products in beer.”

In terms of brand awareness, Northern Monk boasts close to 46,000 followers on its Instagram account that features mostly images of its beer cans. More important is Northern Monk’s engagement rate on the social platform; which, according to the Phlanx Engagement Calculator, is 1.77%. By comparison, Budweiser’s engagement rate is just 0.45% (and Kim Kardashian’s is 1.32%).


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