Stand out behind
the bar.

You’ve spent years perfecting your recipes for the most delicious [beer/cider/coffee/wine/kombucha/soda/sparkling water/lemonade/hot chocolate] in town, and now it’s time to share your creations with the world! Or at least with the greater surrounding areas of distribution. But how do you catch the attention of someone who’s never experienced your product before? Let’s try to see things from their perspective.


It’s late in the evening at a busy bar. A CUSTOMER has finally made their way the front of the line. It’s dark and loud and they just want a beer to bring back to their table, but instead they’re met with the largest variety of beverages they’ve ever seen before and they have no idea where to begin. Their eyes dart around the playful array of handles as they get dizzier and dizzier–until, suddenly, their eyes land on the most beautiful, unique, enticing tap handle at the bar.
Hello, yes, bartender? I’d like a pint of literally whatever is being served from that absolute trophy of a tap handle. Oh, and it’s a new Hazy India Pale Ale from my local brewery? Perfect. I’ll take five.

You only have a few moments to make an impression behind the bar, and your tap handle will be doing some very heavy lifting to attract customers and act as a tiny, inanimate brand ambassador. Read on for some of our tips and tricks to ensure that your tap handles are recognizableboldfunctionalversatile, and personal to you and your products.


Your brand is often times just as important as your product, and what better way to showcase your brand than in a lineup of competitive tap handles at the bar? The beverage information should be up-front and legible to help customers find what they’re looking for (especially in a crowded bar or busy restaurant). Flaunt your logo, utilize your brand colors, label with your brand fonts, and–if possible–incorporate your brand shapes into the handle itself. Your tap handles should tell the story of your brand from every angle to ensure you won’t be overlooked.


Stand out with a custom shape unique to your brand; pop out from the rows of taps with a contrasting color or unexpected size; draw in the curious patron with a handle unlike anything they’ve ever seen before! Do you distribute your product to local bars and restaurants? Stake out the bar and take note of the existing variety of handles–what is your eye most drawn to? How can your tap handle stick out in this crowd while upholding your brand standards?


While this might seem obvious, there are certain design standards that tap handles need to meet in order to properly function in a line of taps. In general, tap handles are placed 3″ apart at the base, which means that the width shouldn’t surpass ~2.625″. The height should not exceed 12″, and overall the handle should weigh under a pound–so be sure to take your materials into consideration. Remember that a real human being is going to be serving your beverage and using your handle many times throughout the day, so it should be ergonomic and easy to move. Another way to help out the server is to brand the backside of the tap handle or leave room for their custom notes. If creating versatile tap handles with replacement stickers or cardstock inserts, make sure your stickers are easy to place by hand and that your inserts are a consistent size and shape.


Get the most out of your custom tap handle by using different vinyl stickers for each beverage, or individual cardstock inserts (double-sided, even!) that can be swapped within a custom slot–as seen in our most recent handle design for Wasabi. This versatile distribution model is an attractive option for restaurants and bars looking for a user-friendly addition to their tap lineup.


Serving in-house? Design your tap handles with your unique space in mind to complement all areas of your branding. Distributing your products to be sold somewhere else? A customer will only spend a few moments choosing a beverage at the bar, so your tap handles might be the only factor leading them to their decision. Make sure your handle adequately represents the beverage it is marketing and tells the story of your brand.

Let us handle it!

Our design team has many years of experience in the beer and restaurant industries, and we are well-versed to make your dreams a reality. We will work with you to champion your vision and help to develop a tap handle that truly suits your brand. From sketches, renders, and prototypes, 818 will guide you through the design process all the way to the final deliverable: a loving collaboration with local fabricators and artisans that will ensure your tap handles will stand out in a vast sea of choices.

We work with goal-driven brands and individuals.

Let’s work together!

(515) 805-5239


520 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50309