Landor cleans up Carling¹s look

Carling is set to launch new can and bottle packaging by Landor Associates. The six-figure redesign project is intended to broaden the brand’s appeal, particularly to women, and to emphasise its credentials as a British beer.

Carling’s parent company, Coors Brewers, appointed rostered consultancy Landor without a pitch just before Christmas. It was briefed to ‘stop the rot and clean up the look’, according to Landor creative director Derek Johnston. Johnston claims that when he asked a Coors representative why the company was not taking its usual step of holding a pitch, the response was, ‘If Landor can’t do it, nobody can’.

This is the first redesign for two or three years, the last being by Holmes & Marchant. ‘We have massively cleaned up the look,’ says Johnston. ‘Carling was tired and needed reinvigorating in the marketplace. You can still easily identify the product, but it is more sophisticated and stylish, with more premium cues.’

There was considerable debate among Landor’s team about whether to give the Carling lion motif, which has traditionally figured discreetly on the cans, a more prominent role.

Landor decided that clarifying and enlarging the lion would help communicate Carling’s ‘Britishness’, but Johnston admits that there were doubts over whether this would cast the brand in too nationalistic a light.

Landor attempted to solve the problem by creating a ‘proud, but not roaring’ lion that was inspired by those sculpted on London’s Westminster Bridge.

The can now features the slogan ‘100% British barley’, while the bottle will attempt to appeal to women by announcing that its contents contain only 99 calories.

Landor is also drawing up brand guidelines that will inform all Carling’s advertising and marketing, as well as how the new branding is applied to Carling’s spin-off concerns such as its venues company Academy Music Group.

Carling’s stablemate at Coors – Grolsch – received a design refresh in June last year, by Dutch/UK design group DJPA (DW 6 June 2007). The redesign was intended to further engage the premium beer market. Other recent notable design work for lager brands includes BR&Me’s award-winning work for Foster’s. Its multipack caused uproar among the design community when it won the Grand Prix in the Design Business Association’s Design Effectiveness Awards in 2006 (DW 30 November 2006).

Carling’s new designs will launch in Sainsbury’s at the end of this week, before rolling out across the UK.


1977 – Carling Black Label introduces its first can

1995 – Design Bridge beats Design House and Lewis Moberly to win a pitch to redesign the look of Carling Black Label. The consultancy changes the logo from a roundel to a rectangle

1998 – Design Bridge refreshes the Carling identity following its disposal of the words ‘Black Label’ from its name

2001 – Holmes & Marchant designs a new bar font for Carling lager

Circa 2005 – Holmes & Marchant redesigns Carling’s can and evolves its logo

2008 – Landor redesigns Carling’s can and bottle

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