The Brand Evolution of a Redefining Craft Beer


Gweilo Beer

Project Objective

Brand guardians: Long-term design partnership and staged evolution of the Gweilo brand. Established in 2015 in Hong Kong, Gweilo quite literally started as a dream. From day one, their mission was to create quality, easy-drinking and widely available brews. And their vision has always been to redefine the Asian craft beer scene.

Collective-Objective has been a collaborative partner from pretty much the beginning. Working alongside Ian & Joseph, the founders, to develop and evolve the brand as the business has grown and rather quickly matured.

Hero Shot of primary three Gweilo Beer product range on rock face. Hk Range, Alcohol Free & Limited Batch
Full selection of HK Range Gweilo Beers laying on sand beach
Three limited batch Gweilo Beer cans standing on sand beach by rocks and water
Alcohol Free Pale Ale Gweilo Beer can being held up to a beautiful blue sky
Animated GIf of various people around the world wearing Gweilo definition t-shirts

Our Collective Solution

The founding team at Gweilo came to us with a rather neat little idea of taking and owning the term ‘Gweilo’. Once a Cantonese derogatory term for Westerners or white men, until more recently taking a more neutral connotation. Or dare say a term of endearment. It was a prime opportunity to take ownership of the word and quite literally redefine its meaning.

From day one, the Dictionary definition of Gweilo became a renowned brand touch-point that has since amassed a somewhat cult following - and is still a crucial part of the brand messaging.

Gweilo Logo white on black with Mandarin characters
Gweilo dictionary definition - cult followed brand statement
Gweilo - Our Story intro copy. Black type on vibrant chartreuse background

A Brand Built Around'Redefining'

Very quickly, ‘Redefining’ was established as the core brand idea. It was a flexible tool that suited the different business facets whilst each time reaffirming their vision.

For their permanent HK Range of beers - Simply Redefining became its mantra. Collaboratively Redefining for their partnerships with other well-known craft breweries. And for their regular release of Limited Batch brews, a wildly free and fairly exhaustive approach was embraced. Fearlessly, Bravely, Audaciously, Vibrantly, Excitingly… Redefining.

Suite of six HK Range Gweilo Beers lined up on black background from Lager to American IPA
Suite of three HK Range Alcohol Free Gweilo Beers lined up on white background from Lager to American IPA
Row of eight Limited Edition Gweilo Beers bleeding off the page on a black background
Row of eight Collaboration Gweilo Beers bleeding off the page on a white background

Latest Phase of the Brand Evolution

The brand’s latest evolution has been with Gweilo’s HK Range - the easily accessible, everyday drinking beers. The product has become a well-known and established brand name in Hong Kong and quickly picked up pace in Vietnam, the UK, and Australia. Originally the brand was minimal clean, black and white. However, collectively we felt that the product and brand could work harder to tell the Gweilo story and evoke our Asian heritage.

Animated GiF of Gweilo HK Range bitmap stencil backgrounds

Building upon an earlier canvas framework idea for the Limited Range and working with Szabotage - a graffiti artist based in HK. A bespoke three-piece canvas artwork was created using Szabotage’s signature stencil style that visually depicted the Gweilo story. With each stencil full of hidden meaning and miniatures stories of importance. From key brewing ingredients to memorable events and key partnerships through to distinctly Hong Kong icons.

A selection of Gweilo Story stencils that appear across the label of the HK Range beers
A photographic montage of Graffiti artist Szabotage spraying the handmade stencils on a roof in Hong Kong

Bespoke stencils were created, hand-cut and sprayed onto a 4m wide three-piece canvas. Taking the idea one step further, we strategically placed relevant ingredients and icons in a particular order so that the canvas would literally become the front of the HK Range cans. Effectively making a bespoke artwork on the shelf.

One-off hand made Gweilo story large artwork created by Szabotage for Gweilo HK Range beers
A row of six Gweilo HK Range beers depicting the Gweilo story artwork across the can fronts

Limited Edition Label Framework

Limited Edition batch beers are regular and adventurous brews that are forever evolving. Being brewed and released as quickly as the bold ideas could be thought of, a level of control was needed for speed efficiencies and brand consistency.

We quickly created a flexible but controlled canvas framework that allowed anyone to produce creative ideas for the limited label’s releases. This created product consistency that built upon and reinforced overall brand equity.

Also, making them mini-artworks in the process.

Animated gif of various Gweilo Beer Limited Batch label covers on black
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Precision Pilsner being held by a female
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Neapolitan Ice Cream Sour with HK skyline in background
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Portland St Pale Ale sitting on top of a barrel in a warehouse
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Precision Pilsner being held by a female
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Tropic Fusion IPA on a palm tree leaf
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Compote Sour in a bed of red berries
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Choco Rock Stout on top of a keg in a warehouse
Gweilo Beer Limited Batch Games series shot of metal thingy

Brand Collaboration & Rollout

We’re currently in the process of rolling out the latest brand evolution across various touch-points. To assist the Gweilo team with marketing across the ever-expanding countries, a brand book and guidelines have been created to aid brand consistency. Making sure the Gweilo experience is the same no matter where in the world you taste a delicious Gweilo brew.

Our partnership is an ongoing, ever-evolving and reasonably organic process. Regarding the design process and brand building, it’s a pretty unique and refreshing way to work. And one that we’ve very much enjoyed to date. Cheers.

Gweilo Black & white generic branded delivery packaging
Gweilo HK Range packaging for Pale Ale cans
Gweilo HK Range Tropical Lager printed carton for 12 cans
Gweilo HK Range Pale Ale printed carton for 12 cans
Gweilo HK Range Session IPA printed carton for 12 cans