Responses by Matti Vandersee, partner/senior designer, Pupila
Background: Numu, a premier craft brewery located in Guanacaste, Costa Rica, needed a new brand and packaging design with a professional look. Guanacaste is the youngest of all the provinces in Costa Rica and known for Costa Rica’s best beaches, so the product needed to be appealing and distinctive for a broad, international audience thirsty for unique craft beer. But at the same time, it had to be a source of pride for every single Costarican.
Reasoning: Our design process always starts with studying the market. Costa Rica has recently enjoyed a gastronomical revolution with many new craft beer proposals, which have successfully disrupted the monotone landscape of the big commercial beers. Nevertheless, almost every craft brewery had a similar visual aspect: brown bottle with a sloppy illustration sticker. The guys from Numu proposed a can for the packaging instead. They also suggested having the brand be inspired by the regional indigenous tribe Chorotega, and Numu means sun. So, we came up with a contemporary result, reinterpreting ancient visuals into a polished look and honoring history to assure instant distinction and pride for the province of Guanacaste.
Challenges: When you’re developing something new, you look around and find the best practices and great design to inspire your project, but in this case, we had a responsibility to uphold. The name of the brand and what it meant made us look inside our own cultural values instead of “Pinterest moodboards.” So, we started talking to people connected to the indigenous Chorotega communities to find out more about the importance of the sun in the Chorotega culture, as well as the meaning of the shapes and colors in their art.
As the modular lettering for the logo was getting approved by the Numu team, we thought it could either work as a clean, iconic can, or we could create type patterns of the essential information for each flavor. We went for the second option. Now each can has a familiar feeling but is still unique on its own through chromatic variation and slightly distinctive patterns. This graphic system was useful for the development of upcoming flavors, and we hope it can help Numu expand and develop future flavors.
Favorite details: We always love when our initial logo proposal is distinctive and unexpected enough to expand into an entire brand universe. So, our favorite detail was definitely the decision to build a modular typographic identity and packaging that could evolve into a pattern. The sun icon was built from the capital N and the development of the entire alphabet was applied on the major brand placement item: the cans.
Visual influences: Chorotega pottery for inspiration, as Chorotega graphics were mostly reproduced on pottery with earthy tones and solid, irregular shapes that could turn into infinite patterns embellishing whatever vessel, but the fuel is always the boring landscape of copy-cat craft beer in Costa Rica.