We’ve been fascinated by Fuller’s branding in the 1970s for some time. If you’ve got a taste for retro design, it’s bound to catch your eye.
This photograph was perhaps when the sheer Life on Mars beauty of it all first really struck us.
As we’ve acquired ephemera over the years, thanks to donations from people like Steve Williams (thanks again, Steve!) and our own finds on Ebay, we’ve started to love it all the more.
There are a few obvious defining characteristics of the brand identity from this period.
First, there’s the typography.
We can’t identify a specific font used for the logo but it’s something like Formula (published in 1970) but condensed, with a shadow. Our guess is that it was hand-drawn, inspired by Formula, Caslon Rounded, Bowery and other hip, soft-edged fonts from the late 1960s.
Secondary text is often in a sans serif font that looks to us like Univers or some derivative.
Then there are the colours: what could be more seventies than orange, brown and yellow? (Maybe they could have got avocado in there somewhere if they’d really tried.)
It feels very clearly like an attempt to modernise the brewery’s image, at a time when it was considering ditching cask ale altogether and going all keg. The bosses at Fuller’s wanted a bit of that Watney’s and Whitbread action – to be part of the world of Bird’s Nest pubs and the Chelsea Drugstore. (See 20th Century Pub, chapter five, for more on that.)
What we can’t quite work out is when this branding applied. This beer mat was, we guess, produced very early in the 1970s at around the time this new beer was launched.
It uses different type and a different logo but the colours are already in place.
By 1974, at the latest, the rounded logo was appearing on packaging and point of sale material, as in this image taken from the brewery’s official history published in 1995.
At the other end of the decade we find some more traditional serif fonts creeping back in, along with a trendy ‘swash’ style that you might recognise from the cover of LPs and paperbacks from the period.
This London Pride beer mat is of a similar vintage and is certainly starting to look more ‘real ale’ and hinting towards the 1980s. London Pride is in Souvenir Bold, or similar.
This leaflet is an update of the yellow wonder above, from c.1979/80, and showcases a new slogan: ‘For a taste of tradition’. The rounded logo is still there, along with the Ford Capri go-faster stripes, but beginning to look a bit dated. The illustrations in the leaflet are all brown and beige, folksy rather than mod.
By the end of the 1970s, Fuller’s had been embraced by, and was embracing, the Campaign for Real Ale and the culture that went with it. Its modern-style pubs were being Victorianised and it wouldn’t be long before those big enamel and brass pump-clips would arrive on the scene.
As if that brief attempt to be trendy never happened.