f Grolsch – Brand Language | FLEX/design
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Making an iconic brand tangible

Making an iconic brand tangible
GIO I.D. Award

Designing a 3D brand language for Grolsch

Grolsch is a proud brand with a wayward personality and a rich history of craftsmanship. It’s inseparably linked to the Swingtop bottle. The bottle with its unique closure that has become an absolute icon.

A new icon
Revolution on the shelf

A new icon

Revolution on the shelf

In 2004 we were asked by Grolsch to design a 33cl returnable bottle with the same iconic values as the swing top bottle. As the briefing included the use of a standard crown cap closure, this was not an easy ask.

We started the project with a thorough brand analysis and decided to use the ruggedness of the swing top bottle as the starting point for the process. The new bottle was given a robust and recognizable shape the fits into the hand perfectly. The fresh, green color complements the design.

The new design caused a real revolution in the beer aisle. Up to the introduction, the standard brown bottles dominated this territory. The only way brands seemed to stand out was by the design of the labels.

The new Grolsch bottle differentiates by the use of ‘structural design.’ Graphically, the design only communicates through a small neck label and an embossed logo. Full of character, robust, contemporary and unmistakably: 100% Grolsch.

A new icon

A new icon

In 2004 we were asked by Grolsch to design a 33cl returnable bottle with the same iconic values as the swing top bottle. As the briefing included the use of a standard crown cap closure, this was not an easy ask.

We started the project with a thorough brand analysis and decided to use the ruggedness of the swing top bottle as the starting point for the process. The new bottle was given a robust and recognizable shape the fits into the hand perfectly. The fresh, green color complements the design.

Revolution on the shelf

Revolution on the shelf

The new design caused a real revolution in the beer aisle. Up to the introduction, the standard brown bottles dominated this territory. The only way brands seemed to stand out was by the design of the labels.

The new Grolsch bottle differentiates by the use of ‘structural design.’ Graphically, the design only communicates through a small neck label and an embossed logo. Full of character, robust, contemporary and unmistakably: 100% Grolsch.

New bottles within the constraints of feasibility

Besides a creative task, our work for Grolsch was also a huge technical challenge. Structural packaging design is often tough from a creative point of view. The technical constraints are so much more challenging than in any other design discipline. Grolsch had just invested in a brand new factory and filling equipment when we began our journey.

We identified all the constraints and limitations that might influence any design choices, in an extensive assessment of the entire supply chain and Grolsch’ production infrastructure for standard crown cork bottles. These restrictions were related to the glass production, bottle sorting in retail, dimensions of bottles, overall shape, detailing, and color.

Naturally, we challenged the current state of the technology but also made sure that all our proposals would be feasible at acceptable costs and within the set timeframe.

A particular technical challenge was the pressure within bottles for carbonated drinks like beer and the required safety margins. With FEM analysis we optimized glass weight in relation to stresses that occurred in the sharper corners of our design.

New bottles within the constraints of feasibility

Besides a creative task, our work for Grolsch was also a huge technical challenge. Structural packaging design is often tough from a creative point of view. The technical constraints are so much more challenging than in any other design discipline. Grolsch had just invested in a brand new factory and filling equipment when we began our journey.

We identified all the constraints and limitations that might influence any design choices, in an extensive assessment of the entire supply chain and Grolsch’ production infrastructure for standard crown cork bottles. These restrictions were related to the glass production, bottle sorting in retail, dimensions of bottles, overall shape, detailing, and color.

Naturally, we challenged the current state of the technology but also made sure that all our proposals would be feasible at acceptable costs and within the set timeframe.

A particular technical challenge was the pressure within bottles for carbonated drinks like beer and the required safety margins. With FEM analysis we optimized glass weight in relation to stresses that occurred in the sharper corners of our design.

Sensory stimulation

After the successful introduction of the 33cl bottle, we got the opportunity to re-design the swing top bottle. The iconic, yet slightly dated brown bottle didn’t fit the bill for the global ambitions of the brand anymore.

We extended the contemporary ambitions of the rich history of the brand. The new design for the swing top bottle is an amalgamation of the opening ritual, the unique sound when popped combined with the embossed grip detail and the green glass of the returnable bottle.

The green bottle deserves an A+. A classic example of how tradition and authenticity can be brought to present times.
Edwin Visser, CEO SoGood, in MarketingTribune

Also, the Swingtop bottle posed a technical challenge: positioning the small holes for the metal wire of the Swingtop closure perpendicular to the embossed brand panel. Together with the bottle supplier we developed a unique way to create undercuts in the production of glass.

Consumer touchpoints

For Grolsch, it’s vital to tell a coherent story across all consumer touch points. We designed a broad range of expressions of the brand for both off-trade and on-trade use.

For the on-trade side of the business, we developed glassware, draught towers, and point-of-sale items that convey the brand in bars in the same manner as it does in the supermarket. The consistent use of materials, colors, and shapes ensure a recognizable and differentiating brand image.

We also assured that Grolsch conveys the same brand image at events and festivals. For these touch points, we designed a modular bar and an iconic black fridge.

Please view the slide show for an overview of the items we designed based on the brand book.

Spider in the web

In the development process, we played a key role in communicating and cooperating with a multitude of specialists and suppliers. We worked in close collaboration with consumer researchers and the graphical designers at Anthem, but also with the bottle manufacturer and the filling line experts.

Our understanding of Grolsch’s brand values, in combination with our design skills and technical know-how, enabled us to play this leading role at the center of the project. Acting as the spider in the web, we managed to make the vision a reality.

Please view the slide show for an overview of deliverables throughout the development process.

From a brand with an icon
to an iconic brand

From a brand with an icon

to an iconic brand

The Swingtop bottle is synonymous with Grolsch’s wayward personality. Despite its positive value to the brand, it takes more to become truly iconic.

We added to the achievement of this ambition by developing a consistent design identity. This ‘design language’ can be applied to all aspects of 3D design for the brand; ranging from packaging to products, from draught towers to fridges and even point-of-sale material used at events and festivals.

Fundamental understanding of the values of the brand was key to the development of the design language. We brought the brand’s values and personality to life in collages and a pallet of materials, colours, style and shapes.

We formalized the design language in a brand book that enables designers and marketers, all over the world, to consistently communicate the brand.

From a brand with an icon

From a brand with an icon

The Swingtop bottle is synonymous with Grolsch’s wayward personality. Despite its positive value to the brand, it takes more to become truly iconic.

We added to the achievement of this ambition by developing a consistent design identity. This ‘design language’ can be applied to all aspects of 3D design for the brand; ranging from packaging to products, from draught towers to fridges and even point-of-sale material used at events and festivals.

to an iconic brand

to an iconic brand

Fundamental understanding of the values of the brand was key to the development of the design language. We brought the brand’s values and personality to life in collages and a pallet of materials, colours, style and shapes.

We formalized the design language in a brand book that enables designers and marketers, all over the world, to consistently communicate the brand.

Long relationship

Long relationship

We are proud of the long relationship we have with Grolsch and the many products this has resulted in. The trust that Grolsch shows in our expertise enabled us to create fantastic results and a strong, recognizable brand image.

Structural packaging design a strong instrument in the marketing mix.

Brand recognition

Consumer research carried out by Grolsch has proven that the 3D design of the packaging has had a lasting positive effect on sales and brand loyalty. Logically the new bottles can be found as the hero in almost every Grolsch commercial.

The Grolsch-case proves that ‘structural packaging design’ is a very powerful instrument in the marketing mix tool box.

Design awards

Made in NL

We received tremendous recognition for the work we did for Grolsch, both globally and in the Netherlands. The 33cl bottle won the prestigious ‘ID Award’ and was named the best Dutch packaging design by creative directors of design agencies in the Netherlands.

In 2012 the design and development of the Grolsch bottle featured in a documentary on National Geographic. The role of the Dutch corporate landscape in the world took center stage in a series titled ‘Made in NL.’ We’re immensely proud that the Grolsch case is used as a prime example of the power of the creative industry in the Netherlands.

Design awards

We received tremendous recognition for the work we did for Grolsch, both globally and in the Netherlands. The 33cl bottle won the prestigious ‘ID Award’ and was named the best Dutch packaging design by creative directors of design agencies in the Netherlands.

Made in NL

In 2012 the design and development of the Grolsch bottle featured in a documentary on National Geographic. The role of the Dutch corporate landscape in the world took center stage in a series titled ‘Made in NL.’ We’re immensely proud that the Grolsch case is used as a prime example of the power of the creative industry in the Netherlands.