JW Lees | Seasonals 

Brewer JW Lees launches a limited edition range of beers yearly to create something different to its core range of ales and lagers. Five interesting new beers hit the bar for just two months each, so the beer and the designs must excite and inspire customers to add something new to their drinking repertoire.

The modern traditional brewer positioning — devised at the start of our JW Lees journey — has always driven our design decisions. We regularly sift and draw upon a wealth of archive material, but one particular set of old beer designs has sat at the top of the pile, waiting for its moment. Not only did this wonderfully idiosyncratic set of labels provide a starting point for our designs, but they also inspired the beer types. The trick was to modernise both without sacrificing what piqued our interest in the first place. 

Our initial focus was typography. We needed the type to feel modern and traditional and to land with a thud, something that’s become part of the JW Lees visual language. We also replaced the old Lees logo with a reworked version of their current logo on a curve.

Modernising the flat-cap man meant making him look timeless. We wanted him to feel more youthful without becoming a flat-cap-wearing hipster. We collaborated with Srdjan Vidakovic to create a contemporary illustration without losing our man’s soul.

Our extensive work on cask ale has revealed the importance of flavour notes for the modern drinker. So, we replaced the brewery details with the necessary beer-style descriptions.

The final task was to finalise a more cohesive colour palette than the archive set. We wanted to embrace the boldness but not fight with the JW Lees core beer range. The new colours link the beers but give each distinctiveness.

We designed every part of the new look to honour the past but make the beers feel like a fresh new choice in a pub today. Choosing how close or far to move from the archive material took an in-depth understanding of two hundred years of history and insight into today’s cask ale drinkers. It builds upon a remarkable story; we’ll raise a glass to that.