I have had the chance to work with some amazing people in the beverage industry. One of the most talented people I have met is Paul Morstad… the artist who created the artwork for the majority of the brand’s visual identity and wine labels for the hatch, in West Kelowna, BC. Paul is one of those people who sees the world through a different lens, with a view that you wish you could catch just a glimpse of, if only for a moment. A small sample of things Paul loves are banjos, painting on vintage maps, history, and birds. His work makes me think of the following quote:
“What we learn with pleasure we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier
Cool Fact: Paul’s sister Julie is also a highly accomplished artist. In fact, I had her book “Milk Teeth” years before I ever had the opportunity to work with Paul. Her skills are equally impressive, with a flair for the unique. See her work here: http://www.juliemorstad.com/
I love being inspired by artists like Paul, as his style of creation can bridge many mediums. Working with his art to help tell stories in the BC wine industry was a crazy adventure, as layers of story were peeled away revealing years of history and connection. I hope you will check out his work on the many different labels at the hatch, and listen to some of the stories about why the art is so important to the winery. Of course the art doesn’t stop on the outside of the bottle… the wine has been racking up awards since before the winery doors open, thanks largely in part to Jason Parkes and his Jason Parkes Customs crew.
So buy some wine, check out some art, and listen to some wild stories that connect it all together. Both Paul and his sister Julie are true gems of the BC art scene, and are also well worth exploring. You can see Paul’s work over at his website here: http://www.paulmorstad.com/
Most of what I do is help a business (winery, brewery, etc) sell a product. Research, strategy, planning, design concepts… all boiling down to helping them tell their brand story through their product packaging and design. Working to increase shelf presence and opportunity to connect a customer to a bottle of wine or a case of beer.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a very important piece! But it is only one piece, and it is very easy to get too internally focussed. To be so worried about expressing the brand story that you forget about the actual customer and the physical situation where they are making their buying decision. Why they buy. Why we buy.
It is that moment where people are seeing themselves enjoying your product and deciding if that is a good fit for the situation. Yes your story is important, but you also need to connect to the occasion and emotion of where your customer will enjoy your product. Is it for a backyard BBQ or dinner with friends? A quiet night in with your loved one or a 25th anniversary party at the in-laws? This is one of the things that your potential customer is considering as they decide what product to buy. So that means that it also needs to be one of the things we consider during the design process.
Sell the experience and emotion around your customer enjoying your product.
Don’t only worry about “selling the product”. Sell the experience and emotion around your customer enjoying your product. When you put more consideration into your customer and their buying decisions, you will create a customer base that is more loyal and more invested in your brand.
Let me start by first saying… maybe you don’t. Perhaps you already have a beautiful family of labels for your products. Labels that hold a long standing tradition, or are so perfectly designed that every beer, wine, or spirit connects to it’s specific target market 100% of the time. But that seems unlikely. Designs can become outdated, brands may change, and sometimes sales can lag due to the customer becoming bored with the same old thing. Label design is a great way to refresh your brand with existing customers, to expand your business to new market sectors, and to sell more!
So how important is it then that people are interested in your label? Your label design is a massive part of the way people see your brand. No matter if you are a beer, wine, or spirit, the label is often the first touch point a customer has with your product. I know I’m not the only one to have bought a bottle because of an eye-catching design, interesting emboss or foil treatment, or a unique package. But why exactly do you need a new label design?
1. Your packaging doesn’t connect to your customer.
It is very easy to make this mistake. One way to help avoid it, is to have a clear understanding of your industry and an honest picture of where you fit within it. Product quality, price point, sales channels, and competition are just a few of the factors that determine who is buying your product and why. Are you selling high end wines to collectors or craft beer four-packs to hipsters? Table wines for dinner parties or artisanal spirits for the custom cocktail crowd?
Tell your story. It is yours, it is unique, and it sells. You have far more than just one customer segment. It makes sense then that you should have more than one line of products in one package, telling one message. Your packaging is one of your first opportunities to connect your product to your customer… take advantage of that.
2. Your labels look like every other bottle on the shelf.
Have you ever wandered the liquor store aimlessly, trying to decide what to buy? Even with a specific idea in mind, you can get lost in the search. Classic, trendy, artsy, modern… you need your labels to invite the buyer to pick your bottle off the shelf instead of your competition’s. Customers are looking at product cost and design on the shelf. They are far more likely to purchase a product that they have picked up, so give them that reason! There is no profit in a missed opportunity.
3. The design was an afterthought.
Sound harsh? It happens far more often than you think, and it is an easy place to find yourself. Don’t feel bad. You have a million things to consider and work on while you are running your business. While you are working on your products and making sure they are the quality that you want to produce, it is hard to also be thinking about how to get that product into the hands of your potential customers. Hiring a professional will allow them to connect your brand story to your packaging so you can concentrate on the quality of the product and experience.
4. Cost was the main factor in determining your chosen labels.
This one happens a lot as well. The thing to remember when working on your beverage packaging is that the perceived value of your product begins at first glance. The weight of the bottle… texture of the paper… quality of the print… the design of the label… all of these things help reinforce the buying decision. If you don’t invest in your product, why would a customer?
5. It’s time to refresh or launch a new product.
This is an exciting one. New brands and products are a great thing to develop, but it is easy to get lost in a sea of competition. Make sure that you take design and strategy into consideration when launching new products so that you have the best chance possible of connecting your story, to your products, to your customers. Once your bottles are on the shelves, it’s out of your hands and your labels are now your sales team. Make sure they are working for you!
If you would like to discuss the design direction for your product, please get in touch. I would be happy to work on your business, while you work in your business.
In early 2014, I was given the opportunity to work on a very exciting project with Terrabella Wineries. A brand revitalization for an Okanagan winery, on the beginning of the Naramata Bench. Perseus Winery in Penticton BC was building a reputation for making great BC wine, including a number of award winning vintages in some classic BC varietals. However, they were suffering from a self-proclaimed identity crisis. The winery was only a few years old under the name of Perseus, but it had already gone through a number of visual identities, as well as ownership and management teams. Management felt this was causing confusion and inconsistency in the market, which was reflected in overall brand awareness. So it was time for a change, and time to help solidify the image as well as the the brand.
The existing version of the Perseus label, by Townhall Brands, was quite beautiful. A striking blue night sky highlighted by a field of bright white stars, portraying the Perseus constellation. The typeface used for the brand was a Roman inspired type, creating a Mediterranean bridge between the label typography and the Greek heritage of the Perseus name. Embossed on the front of the label, it looked clean, beautiful, and consistent in building a visual identity and name based on a constellation that can be seen here in BC.
The perceived value of a product can mean the difference between taking a bottle home and leaving it on the shelf.
So what was the problem? While the label itself was beautiful, the entire line of wines that Perseus was producing used nearly identical versions of the same label. From the entry level white wines, all the way through the top end big reds. This was most apparent in the use of this label on their flagship red wine, a Bourdeaux style red blend named ‘Invictus’. The primary issue we saw was that the buyer did not have clear visual cues that helped to relate the value differences between the entry level wines and the ‘Select Lots’, beyond a small line of red type on the front label. To a buyer, the perceived value of a product can mean the difference between taking a bottle home and leaving it on the shelf.
Perseus Winery needed to increase their shelf presence.
So there it was… Perseus needed to increase their shelf presence on their main line of wines, and create a stronger identity for their ‘Select Lots’ wines as well as their flagship ‘Invictus’.
The main constellation imagery for the brand was strong, so there was no need to move away from that on the label. The typeface however needed an update. While stylistically it was inline with the created brand story, Perseus management wanted a new font that would help give the label that stronger shelf presence it was searching for. So, we transitioned to a bold version of a more classically styled serif font. This new font was actually designed for showcasing beautiful print, and it offered more impact and legibility for the updated labels. The logo was also updated from the name and a single star to a more flag style version using the main constellation they were becoming recognized for, along with the name in the new font.
Once the labels were finalized, we needed to begin creating visual cues to show the increased value in the ‘Select Lots’ wines, while keeping the visual identity consistent with the constellation labels. We explored many concepts and eventually ended up moving away from the paper labels to a new screen printed design. For this, we pulled the imprint of the stars out of the brand graphic, and created an emblem for the ‘Select Lots’. The emblem border and the stars were all screen printed in silver metallic foil. Custom corks were designed with the winery name in the new font, and a new design was created using silver for the foil capsules as well. As many of these wines were going to be sold in restaurants, thought was put into how these bottles would be viewed in all instances, including lying down in a wine rack where all you can see is the top of the bottle. ‘Select Lots’ screen printed bottle designs were completed for Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as a new red blend named ‘Eclipse’. The emblem was also used on all new custom glassware.
Perseus now had clear separation between the different tiers of wines in their portfolio.
Next up was a new design for ‘Invictus’, the flagship red blend for Perseus. With the same goals of setting this wine apart visually from the entry level wines, it now also needed to be visually elevated above the ‘Select Lots’ wines. After exploring a number of different concepts, we decided on a gold screen printed design of the constellation from the main Perseus branding. The constellation was expanded and wrapped the entire bottle, enticing a buyer to pick the bottle up and interact with it by turning the bottle around. The front of the bottle displayed the name, vintage, and the BC VQA note, with the constellation located in the bottom right, and the love story, wine blend, and legal information was on the back. We finished off the package with a custom printed Perseus cork and a custom printed black foil capsule with gold printing, along with branded wine boxes using the same emblem as the ‘Select Lots’ wines. Magnums and double-magnums were also produced, with the double-magnum tops being hand waxed in gold wax in place of the foil capsules.
Perseus now had clear separation between the different tiers of wines in their portfolio. The design for Perseus ‘Invictus’ also won a Bronze medal in the Label Design category at the 2015 San Francisco International Wine Competition. This was a fun and interesting project to work on. Watch for them in stores and buy Perseus wines online to support the BC wine industry.