(Feature image: The Hockney Label for Château Mouton Rothschild 2014)
It’s about the brand
Design and copy for wine labels are a discipline like any other brand marketing communications piece. At their best, they draw upon the best practise of any creative campaign, seeking, through images and words, to drive sales – and usually, if long term success is a business objective, create a brand.
‘Wine brand’ tends to be emotive in wine marketing since there are many interpretations of what the term means.
It spans not only high-volume products from corporates e.g. Jacobs Creek, Cloudy Bay, Hardy’s, Moët et Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon (built via conventional marketing), but also artisan production fine wines such as DRC, high profile domains like Rothschild, whole appellations like Champagne and regions like Rioja.
Appellations like Chablis and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are interesting as they have brand power not built up in a traditional sense but due to historical prestige, widespread distribution and a certain amount of stylistic distinction.
These are the kind of conversations we have with our wine brand clients.
Right now, we are working with France’s leading wine cooperative, Estandon and Hatch Mansfield - UK specialists in premium wines made by independent, family owned winemakers - on brand creation projects spanning market research, strategy, name generation, logo, label design, and sales material.
What makes a good wine brand?
We like ad legend and winemaker, John Hegarty's, take on brand definition: “A brand is the most valuable piece of real estate in the world: a corner of someone’s mind."
Any brand that successfully engenders some level of positive emotional resonance with its customers might therefore be said to be good but the very best brands manage to appeal widely without undermining their value or diluting their story.
However, wine brands remain much smaller than their equivalents in the beer, soft drinks and spirits industries. There's no Budweiser, Coca-Cola or Smirnoff because of the fragmented seasonal realities of wine production.
Name, design, copy and price place a wine
Luxury products like wine are valued for their aesthetic qualities. But placing value on them can be difficult.
With wine, most people are not able to differentiate between them based on objective sensory characteristics. (eg Blind taste tests). The perceived quality of wine is only partially derived from its material characteristics.
The name, label and pricing signals what tastes ‘good’.
Do you speak wine?
Describing wine has become ever more colourful with consumers wondering what a wine will taste like if it tastes of "mocha, loamy soil, charred herbs, pencil shavings, roasted hazelnut, gushing blackberry, fragrant tobacco, rich soil, smashed minerals and metal.’’
Label copy has a different job.
It must communicate the rational information of varietal, taste, place – but also give a sense of the unique surroundings and nature of the vineyard. And convey the wine maker’s vision for the wine. All in 50 or so words.
Tonally, the spectrum is wide, from the poetic to the traditional. It should be a mix of being expressive, precise and – oddly at the same time - sometimes abstract.
Here's two examples (hot off the press) of wine label copy Anew wrote for Neleman Wines - whose founder, Derrick Neleman was Wine Entrepreneur of the Year 2020.
"This delicious Chardonnay was inspired by California, made in Valencia, created with Dutch soul - and helped by bees. We have a lavender field next to our winery so the bees can make our vineyards more biodiverse. It's how we produce these subtle buttery oak notes, fragranced with vanilla and toast. Sip it and feel the hum"
FOR THOSE WITH A HEAD FOR WINE
"The rainbow, one of nature's most wondrous creations, made by the sun and the rain. Also the symbol of tolerance, equality, freedom and pride. Nature and authenticity, both qualities we passionately believe in. It's why our vineyards are eco-efficient and biodiverse. This is a delicious, organic vegan white wine, blended from Verdil and Viognier grapes, displaying a fresh, fruity, smoky taste fragranced by citrus and Anis"
ENJOY WITH PRIDE
Good creativity comes from understanding the commercials
Like any other marketing communication vehicle, winning copy and design means understanding the commercial objectives, the wine brand’s strategy, its relationship if there is one, to a master brand or wine maker, or portfolio.
We work to a brief. we want to know the maker’s vision for the wine, the makers themselves (family/cooperative etc) , the competition, tasting notes, vineyards’ location, surroundings, points of natural importance, sustainability policy/practise and the copy/visual relationship and whether we are supporting or describing the label visual.
Award winning label designs
This Single Estate family vineyard, nestled in the chalky North Downs of Kent, enjoys a natural geology that inspired this unique wine label. Highlighting the estate’s minerality and texture with beautiful abstract, rustic patinas, a standout, super premium, brand was created
WINES BY KYLIE MINOGUE
French Rosé is a wine this pop icon has a great passion for. Paired-back, restrained, elegance characterises the design: the label is layered with tactile finishes - beautiful, debossed lettering into heavyweight cotton material, with rose gold foil detailing allowing Kylie's recognisable signature, in gloss black, to stand out on shelf. It gracefully complements the wine’s long necked, elegant shaped bottle finished with a unique pearlescent capsule.
Placed in the foothills of the Sussex South Downs, in the shadows of Devils Dyke, this progressive thinking vineyard wanted different artists to paint their own individual interpretations of the land. Working to the same monochromatic colour brief and horizon line – but always inspired by the earth’s chalk and flint- each artist created highly distinctive designs. As a result, a strong brand was created with values and imagery that successfully differentiated itself in the crowded English wine market.
Source: All labels from Studio Parr
Here’s to developing successful drinks brands
Anew are brand development and marketing specialists for ambitious businesses of excellence. We help companies increase brand profitability through sharper insights, distinctive propositions, creative ideas and faultless execution. We are particularly adept at working directly with luxury brands, business owners, start-ups and entrepreneurs who are committed to sustainability, outstanding quality and craft.
You can read more about us here including our drinks experience and that of our close creative associates Studio Parr, the award-winning design studio specialising in premium drinks.
Their experience includes Chivas, Beefeater Hayman, Talisker, Kylie Minogue, Estandon, Hatch Mansfield, Neleman, Ehrmanns, Marques De Riscal, Albourne Estate, Hoffmann & Rathbone, Accolade Wines, International Wine Shippers, Grange Vineyards, Johnnie Walker, Talisker, Jack Daniels, Stolichnya. Adnams, Siren, Tuborg, Tiger, Carlsberg/Heineken, Diageo/Guinness.
Based in the heart of London, we'd be delighted to meet for a coffee, either face-to-face or virtually, to discuss any new projects you might be considering.