H&H ♥︎ T&T 4EVA

by | Oct 15, 2019

After my last Blog about getting to know strangers at Business Networking events, I thought I’d write this one about a great bunch of people that we’ve known for a relatively long time – Time & Tide Brewing.

They’re our clients and our friends. They pay us in beer, as well as money. And we love their work – which is basically brewing the best craft beers in Kent – if not the country. If not the world.

But there’s really nothing basic about running a successful brewery. Despite their talented team work their beery balls/boobs off, we’re still constantly amazed by how much they get done with so few people. It’s just possible that they’re real super-heroes!…

There’s Sam, whose super powers include Super Strength and Enhanced Taste & Smell.

There’s Paul, whose super powers include Superhuman Agility and Unstoppable Momentum.

There’s Kerry, whose super powers include Precognition and 360 Degree Vision.

There’s Jamie, whose super powers include Superhuman Canning & Ultimate Delivery Driving.

And now there’s John, whose super power – Extreme Adaptability – will come in extremely handy! 🙂

Back in 2013, when Sam & Paul first met on a brewery tour, they discussed shared passions for rugby, their hometown (Deal), and great beer, so they decided to start their own brewery – as you do. But they actually did it, and they’re still doing it. And we’ve been working with them from Day 1 (apart from designing their first logo, which some other random did!). We’ve forgiven them now though.

Our very earliest T&T projects were 1) a basic website, 2) some business cards 3) T-shirts and 4) label designs for their two first beers – Spratwaffler Pale Ale and Smugglers Stout, which they ‘cuckoo-brewed’ whenever scheduling gaps opened up at other local breweries’ premises – usually at weekends and evenings.

We’d go along to help sometimes – moving precariously-stacked palettes of 330ml bottles with a wooden handcart, before hand-filling, hand-labelling and hand-crowning/capping hundreds of the buggers. It was usually very cold and very wet (wellies were a must), but it was strangely exciting and satisfying too.

Back then, T&T were fine with calling their products ‘Real Ales’ (instead of ‘Craft Beers’), and they had a vision of a brand that felt rustic and seasidey, so it was all about driftwood and shingle. And it stayed that way for a good couple of years, until the first major ‘sea change’ (sorry, I couldn’t resist the watery pun).

They had always admired and studied cool craft breweries from other parts of the world, and we enjoyed regular, weekend ‘tasting sessions’ where we’d mix ‘Punkin Ale’ by DogFish Head from Delaware in the States, with ‘Milk Stout’ by Mikkeller from Copenhagen and ‘Maz Pale Ale’ by Omnipollo from Stockholm. But now that the UK Craft Beer market was exploding in a riot of equally-crazy beer flavours and crazy and colourful label designs, T&T wanted a piece of the exciting action too. Driftwood and shingle just wouldn’t cut it anymore.

2016’s move to the new ‘crafty’ appearance coincided with a move into 330ml aluminium cans. As well as being MUCH easier to stack and transport with a wooden handcart(!), this instantly gave their beers a sharper, more modern look.

The driftwood backgrounds gave way to eye-popping colours with a textured/distressed effect. And thanks to the considerable talents of Chris Howell (who still does all of T&T’s illustrations, and who happens to be my much better half), each beer got its own unique, linework illustration. Spratwaffler got flying fish skeletons and Smugglers Stout got a quirky gull on a floating barrel.

The briefing and design process didn’t change much though. It usually went like this…
1. “Hey Jen, hope you’re well? We’ve brewed three new beers and we need three new brands for next week”
2. “No problem, Sam. Give us the beer names and Chris can weave his magic with the illustrations.”
3. “The beers are called ‘All in Jim’ (it’s an American Pale Ale), ’Papa Midnight’ (it’s a Black India Pale Lager) and ‘Monster Soup’ (it’s an IPA).”
4. “Hi Sam. Here’s Chris’ illustrations.”
5. “Thanks! We love them!”

And that’s pretty much still the way it goes. As soon as Chris’ illustration gets the thumbs-up, Linda ‘composes’ the label artwork by carefully choosing background colours that complement the beer type, but also stand out and differentiate the packaging from any of its neighbours in increasingly bright and busy fridges and shelves. The labels now include nerdy beer ‘stats’ about ABV, bitterness and gravity, as well as often-surprising ingredients lists in no less than 8 European languages. (T&T always had one eye on becoming the UK’s best craft brewery, but their new European wholesale deals meant they could conquer the Continent as well!).

So, while their business has sometimes lacked funds… (they’ve ploughed any profits into building their own brewery, buying increasingly big and impressive-looking shiny kit, and opening their first retail outlet in Sandwich, with the equally-talented team from Smugglers Records)… they’ve certainly never lacked ambition.

Which is why, in late 2018, when we suggested another rebrand to fully-capitalise on their bigger new 440ml cans, we weren’t vaguely surprised when they said… ‘YES! LET’S GO FOR IT!’.

After working (and drinking) as a team for the previous 5 years, our joint-creative-ESP kicked in immediately, and the new look came together in just a few weeks. By stripping away any unnecessary typography from the label fronts, the ‘canvas’ opened up for Chris’ artwork, and yet again, he did us all proud. The latest Spratwaffler can – originally wrapped in a driftwood effect, and then covered in minimal, skeletal, flying fish – was now represented by a wily old fisherman riding a fish. Of course it was! Why not?!

Previously just flat linework, the new illustrations’ extra depth and detail really lifts them off the now-solid coloured backgrounds, and the vibrant colour fills in limited (and slightly bonkers/psychedelic) palettes mean they’re now mini-artworks that people want to own and take home – which has obviously been brilliant for beer sales!

And last, but definitely not least, we got to replace their original logo (the one that other random designer did for them ages ago!), with a new identity featuring a friendly sea creature and simple, contemporary typography in the same line weight.

So for the last 6 years, T&T have trusted us to do what we do best – deliver ‘brand impact and effective design’ and we love them for that. And by taking a few brave steps whenever it’s been needed, we’ve managed to stay visually ahead of the crazy craft beer competition. For now, at least!


“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Dr. Seuss