Responses by Max Ottignon, cofounder, Ragged Edge
Background: The existing identity was both beautiful and popular amongst bartenders, but not an obvious candidate for a revolution. The rebrand aimed to change how people thought about both the brand and the wider category. East London Liquor Co. wanted to broaden its target consumer from craft experts to anyone who enjoys a good quality spirit.
Reasoning: East London Liquor Co. makes great drinks without the crafty bullshit. But to really succeed, the brand needed to take the fight beyond the idiosyncratic world of craft spirits. And it needed to be ready to ruffle a few feathers along the way. So, we helped build a brand that’s unpretentious, unapologetic and unabashed in its flagrant disregard for convention. A brand designed to transcend a category.
Challenges: East London Liquor Co. was founded on the belief that great spirits don’t need to come with an exorbitant price tag. We needed to find a way to communicate quality without making the brand appear expensive. That’s a tough brief. So rather than use category craft cues—like ornate design, lots of long words and superlatives—we had to find a new visual language. Crafted, but not craft. This was about combining huge attention to design detail, from subtle print finishes to painstakingly executed typography, with an aesthetic that felt bold and challenging.
Favorite details: The type was crucial to the project. We wanted the brand to be able to speak in a way that was provocative without being off-putting. We needed to create something the brand could own, so we decided to build a bespoke typeface to tell East London Liquor Co.’s story. Adding the alternate glyphs—inspired by the surrounding area and the distillation process itself—gave the brand a sense of authenticity and played to heritage cues in a way that felt very different from the traditional approach.
Visual influences: The visual language heavily references the local area East London Liquor Co. is based in. The brand’s “smiler” icon was inspired by an old crest found in nearby Victoria Park, and incorporates the Thames to make a smiley emoji. The typeface’s alternate glyphs began as things we found in East London, alongside parts of the distillation process. And the graphics on the bottle are abstracted representations of each liquid’s story.
Specific demands: This brand needed to live across a multitude of product ranges: the core spirits, a behind bars range, a set of ready-to-drink cans and a new line of hard seltzers, just to start. Along with a host of innovations, limited editions and collaborations to come. That put a real onus on developing a simple, coherent system that could deliver a brand-first approach across everything. The challenge was to do that in a way that wouldn’t compromise the character of the individual ranges and products. It was not easy.