Responses by Elizabeth Finn, managing director, Cowan London
Background: In 2017, new owners bought Murray Breweries, returning it to its original name: Billson’s Brewery. Following the launches and relaunches of spring waters, cordials, sodas and beers, the new owners used their expertise to produce craft gins. The launch of Billson’s Australian Dry Gin and Billson’s Beechworth Dry Gin marks a new direction for one of Australia’s oldest drinks manufacturers. The drinks that Billson’s produces appeal to the visitors to the historic Australian town of Beechworth, and foodies and craft beer enthusiasts throughout Australia.
Reasoning: We wanted to ensure that the packaging for Billson’s gin had a sense of history to it, but executed as a contemporary design. A limited color palette suits the pure, elegant nature of gin, and the single hit of a rich vintage color differentiates the two gins and makes it feel sophisticated. The mix of typography and bold confident Billson’s branding on the primary label, and the classically crafted secondary elements on the distiller’s secondary label, position this gin as a contemporary product with a nod to the brewery’s history.
Challenges: Our design needed to communicate a clear point of difference and deliver something unique and distinctive in the booming Australian gin category. We focused on the heritage and provenance of Billson’s, while giving it a modern twist.
Favorite details: The way we communicated the craft and small batch nature of this product, with details such as the handwritten labels and the beautiful illustrations, which were inspired by the botanicals. A cork stopper and simple tamper seal, all used in hand-finished bottle production, emphasize that this is a small batch product. This is reinforced by the bottle shape, a raised Billson’s wordmark to give an embossed feel and a handwritten footer and label.
Visual influences: We were inspired by the botanicals used in Billson’s gin, such as stringybark honey, dandelion, eucalyptus and a vast array of other Australian ingredients found in Beechworth. These botanicals inspired our design solution and are represented on the label with beautiful drawings. A traditional style of illustration complements the history of the brewery and gives the brand credibility in the market. It’s a layered design that cleverly marries a contemporary, clean and pure look with heritage.
Anything new: While we are very familiar with the UK gin market, the Australian gin market was new territory for us. We discovered that it was an emerging, yet already competitive category with many credible players, so we had to work hard to achieve a stand out. As a result, we ensured that the Billson’s brandmark leads proudly on the label; dialing up the heritage of the brewery and the gin’s provenance, while giving it a contemporary feel.