Mad Cat’s branding – the man behind the brand

Where did Mad Cat’s branding come from?

After we launched Mad Cat Brewery, it became apparent that our characterful and unique beers needed a brand to match their personality.  So we turned to local designers and brand experts Sand Creative, based in Herne Bay, to create something special for us.

The man at the helm of Sand – Sean Harvey – has years of experience working with local food and drink producers and also specialises in unusual and creative branding.  He was definitely the designer we wanted to work with.

We receive lots of compliments from customers who love our quirky mad cat labels and images. We thought that those people who love our beers and also admire the branding would be interested in finding out how these wacky mad cats came to grace our kegs and bottles!

Sand Creative’s Sean Harvey answers our questions on his work for Mad Cat Brewery and also explains more about his business.

What was your brief from Mad Cat?

The owners at Mad Cat felt the previous branding sat in the world of old-style beers. I was briefed to deliver a fresh contemporary look so that Mad Cat’s beer could become a challenger for the more adventurous new wave of craft beers that had been emerging in recent years.

The design and branding is of course backed up by the wild and wonderful styles of beer Mad Cat produces. These ales form the inspiration for the different personas for the cats we design.

Since November 2015, we have designed branding for 20 beers and numerous pump clips. One of our earliest projects was to create a card pump clip. Standing out at the bar is key and we came up with the idea of creating a cat head shape for the clip, it really helped Mad Cat’s beers get noticed.

How did you come up with your fab Mad Cat branding and graphics?

“I just imagined a world of lots of different Mad Cats that could lead to all sorts of adventures.”

Just the name Mad Cat conjures up a world of ideas.

As with all my projects there is a concept stage which is very much about exploring and having a bit of fun, so at that point there was a wide spread of ideas presented. The idea that resonated the most was a route that featured a watercolour illustration of a crazy grinning cat with wobbly, scratchy line work, emphasising the madness.

I just imagined  a world of lots of different Mad Cats that could lead to all sorts of adventures and possibilities. That way new ideas could be generated relatively easily for each new styling. The crazy names for the beers that help inspire the cats come from minds of the people at Mad Cat!

I was really happy with the brand stamp that shows the M&C making up the cat head. I think it’s great if a brand can also be recognised by a symbol rather than a full brand name.
“The crazy names for the beers that help inspire the cats come from minds of the people at Mad Cat!”

What inspired you and what do you enjoy about working for Mad Cat?

“I love the fact Peter Meaney at Mad Cat has an open mind.”

I enjoy getting involved with illustration. I’ve always loved to draw and paint since school, it’s really how I came to be a designer.

Creating the cats can be quite time consuming. The layers of colour are laid down at different stages and then dried before drawing over in pen. Illustrating a Cat in a Kilt isn’t easy!

I also love typography. The Mad Cat project is one where I can get to be more playful with different styles that I might steer clear of for other brands.  There are a couple of core fonts we use for communication, but each design brings new illustrations, fonts and colours.

I love the fact Peter Meaney at Mad Cat has an open mind. He is a great client to work for as he trusts me to do the best and get on with it which has worked well for us. His experimental and curious nature along with Mad Cat’s fabulous brewing is inspiring and this is reflected in the branding.

Describe you and your business

“Ultimately the work needs to stand out and reflect the wonderful produce that my clients are offering.”

Since completing my four-year degree in Maidstone I’ve worked at the UK’S best packaging and branding agencies as a design director in London for 20 years. In that time I worked on global re-designs of some of the world’s biggest brands and smaller UK brands too. I love London but we wanted a change and we decided to move to the Kent coast and we love it here. (I’m originally from Kent anyway.)

I set up as Sand Creative 6 years ago this October. I knew that Kent had an abundance of lovely food and drinks brands and I started visiting local markets and fairs to see if anyone needed design help. I also visited the big London fairs too. This way I started to slowly pick up business. I also joined Produced in Kent and am currently one of three design industry partners that they have teamed up with.

Since then we’ve picked up six top international packaging awards for various projects including work for The Kent Cider Company and Shepherd Neame. We flew to New York and Barcelona to pick them up and got the chance to meet many of the design heroes that inspire us.

At the heart of every good brand there is usually an interesting story and/or, a purpose.  I help to form this into a creative brief that can inspire the design work.  From this we can create distinctive packaging and a brand identity that can be translated to websites and other off pack communication.

Ultimately the work needs to stand out and reflect the wonderful produce that my clients are offering.

Other clients

I’ve worked with people from all over the world, from Saudi Arabia, Los Angeles, France to UK based places like Yorkshire, Cornwall, Norfolk, and of course Kent.

I love working on interesting local brands as I get to meet the people. Local clients include, Mad Cat, Kent Cider Company, Goody Ales, Shepherd Neame, Troo, The Canterbury Ales, Curd & Cure, Dudda’s Tun & Coxy’s liqueurs amongst others.

To find out more about Sand Creative’s work, take a look at their website.

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