A question for those readers still in lockdown: what’s the thing you miss about pubs the most? The banter? The rich smell of pub food? The sound and sight of a beer being poured?
What about the way you get to watch a beer label move on a tap decal?
OK, chances are you won't be familiar with the last of those, but Perth’s Ryan and Shinae Vergone are hoping their digital decals will change that. They're the couple behind Vertek Innovations and Looped Animated Branding (LAB): animated digital tap decals that move and change.
It's an idea Shinae says came from a simple conversation too.
“We were just on date night one night,” she says. “And we went, ‘Why doesn’t the bar have more exciting things?’
“[Ryan] has about ten years experience in animation and branding and marketing, so we’re always brainstorming new ways to do something else.”
That was close to four years ago, and Shinae says their first assumption was that the kind of digital decals they had in mind would likely already be out there. But when they looked further into it, they couldn't find anything.
“We did some research and it just didn’t show up anywhere,” she says. “We even paid people to try and investigate it further and nobody could find anything, so we patented and developed it.
“We spent six months researching because we didn’t want to spend any money on research and development for something that was already out there.”
Each Vertek decal (as seen above in their launch video as well as on their Instagram) can be uploaded with any animation or design. These typically play on a loop but can also be used to display tasting notes or add extra information to a space where real estate is slim; Shinae says any changes content can be made quickly and seamlessly too.
Their first LAB digital decals went out close to a year ago; since then, they've sent them to Victoria, New South Wales and have some heading to Broome and Darwin. The place where you'll see most at once, however, is in Perth’s Planet Royale. The former IMAX cinema in Northbridge (which is where you can see the Vergones in the photo at the top of this story) is home to multiple venues; the arcade-filled Barcadia features 36 of these digital decals in a row of taps pouring beer, cider and cocktails.
“Because they’re a new venue that’s just opened to the public, we kind of made that our launch as well,” Shinae says.
Their work has also seen the waves on Gage Roads’ Single Fin to roll in and brought the WA brewery’s seagull to life, while attendees at the most recent Froth Town might have spotted animated taps at Nowhereman's stand.
Shinae says among their customers are breweries who have purchased them for bars that support them as a marketing tool, which is where they thought a lot of the initial interest would originate. But venues have been eager for them as well, both due to a desire to stand out and the ease with which they can change decals – a process Shinae says takes about ten seconds.
“Because it’s brand new, the concept has been interpreted differently and we’re happy to service that,” she says, adding that venues see them as a point of difference.
The process of turning a static beer label into an animation is simple enough – and something Sergio Montenegro has been doing on Instagram for some time now – with the LAB team working closely with customers throughout.
“For most people, we’ll do a six-frame storyboard showing how it will be animated from the start to the finish,” Shinae says.
But, while it's a simple enough process, she says the results can have real impact on the viewer, as was the case for her with one of the best known labels in the country.
“To see Melbourne Bitter animated," she says, "I was so blown away.”
You can find other articles in The Collaborators series here.