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Elements of a Successful Tap Handle Design

by Cole Krueger - Art Director

When it comes to designing an effective and eye-catching tap handle design for your brand, there are many dos and don'ts to consider. Can the customer get the pertinent info about my beer when looking at this handle from their barstool? Does it stand out on a large tap line next to the competition? Is it easy for the bartender to use?

As the Art Director here at Hankscraft AJS with 12 years of experience under my belt designing tap handles for hundreds of brands both large and small, I've learned a few things that can help you when thinking about getting started with your first tap handle design.

1. Messaging Hierarchy

Maybe THE single most important element of your design is making sure you have clear, concise branding on your tap handle. This ensures the customer knows the name of your brewery and what variety of beer is on tap. Customers often gravitate toward their variety preference first and foremost, so making sure they know what type of beer they're getting right from the jump is super important. Secondly, you want to make sure they know the name of the brewery that tasty brew they just had came from! Building loyalty to your brand is a big deal and you want to know that whatever establishment your customer steps foot in, they can recognize your handle any time following that first purchase.

2. A Recognizable and Impactful Design

Obviously you want a beautiful tap handle that stands out from the pack right? Everyone does! But it's useful to keep in mind that there are MANY ways to stand out on a tap line these days, and having the most elaborate tap handle is not always the way to go. The first thing I'd tell any customer who didn't know where to start is to stay true to yourself and your brand. Any successful tap handle communicates the feel and story of the brewery by effectively utilizing it's branding elements to become a natural extension of the brand itself. Visual motifs and physical materials and finishes that relate to the brand's themes can combine to make a tap handle memorable to a customer. Short, tall, thin, wide, colorful, or monochrome can all be impactful in their own way!

3. Utility

The least exciting part of the process but a decidedly important one. Making sure your tap handle is practical and usable in the field is an extremely important consideration. All tap systems in the U.S. are generally allow for 3 inches of room on center for each tap on the line, meaning the width of the tap handle should not exceed that measurement, lest your handle be turned to the side, or in the worst case scenario, not used at all! Best to make bartenders jobs as easy as possible so they can install and use your new tap handle with minimal fuss. Tap handles should also be kept under one pound in weight to prevent them from becoming too heavy and self-tapping lines, don't want that delicious brew going to waste! And lastly, tap handles need to be strong enough to withstand at least 2-3 years of normal wear-and-tear in a bar setting; wood, metal, high-density urethane, and acrylic are all good options for tap handle construction and are materials that we provide here at Hankscraft AJS.

Now that you're armed with the knowledge necessary to tackle your first tap handle design project, reach out to us so we can help you get started! There's no time like the present to get your beer out there on-premise and get your customers talking.

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