American Hard Seltzer
Creative Direction and Brand Design
Half Lion Brewing Co. wanted a piece of the booming hard seltzer market. Their chemist and COO had crafted a recipe that not only tasted delicious, it beat out the leading brands White Claw and Truly in multiple blind taste tests.
With only the beverage product in hand, I was tasked with creating the brand around the new Half Lion Hard Seltzer and it had to knock the "big guys" out of the water. This included the design, product sourcing, nomenclature, website, and social presence. There wasn’t a ton of information on hard seltzers in the wild because the industry category was still relatively new, but I was up for the challenge to learn everything I could about what already existed and then create the brand for how this new seltzer that would set the bar for an entire industry.
I began the research phase by diving into every industry article on hard seltzer brands, their design processes, and their go-to market strategies. This whole time, countries outside the US were referring to this craze as “American Hard Seltzer.” Astonishingly, nobody had claimed that title for their own product. This was it. I took the reins and grabbed the domain, set in motion the trademark process, and registered @AmericanHardSeltzer on every social platform available including Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Then I dove into packaging. Every leading seltzer seemed to be in a 12oz sleek aluminum can so to be safe, I designed 50+ styles of labels that could go in that direction and I included the other brand names I was working on just in case. But I knew I could go bigger. I had seen in several Asian grocery stores the use of clear cans that really showcased the actual product and a light went off - this would be the first seltzer in a clear can. I was able to source a canning partner both overseas and domestically who could produce nearly 10,000 plastic cans of our product every hour. Now these were really standing out. I kept the design of the labels fairly straightforward so the customer could focus on just exactly what was happening here: an industry-first hard seltzer made of all natural products in a clear container unlike anything they had seen on the shelves before.
I designed retail boxes that would showcase the clear packaging. I hired a film crew to shoot some footage of the product out in the wild. I built AmericanHardSeltzers.com as a landing page where customers could order the product. I curated social pages to get the word out across the glove. Nearly two months of 80 hour work weeks went into the launch of this product so it could be on store shelves in time.
American Hard Seltzer was launched in stores and online on July 4, 2019 and the product flew off the shelves, selling out of each retail location through the summer months and into the fall. Retailers and distributors gave the seltzers prime grocery real estate including eye-level center-aisles and end caps because they knew customers would dive in just because of the packaging. The word quickly spread through international markets and the brewery subsequently doubled in capacity to keep up with demand.