Connecting To Your Customers:
Are you in the business of beverage sales… specifically craft beer, wine, or spirits? Maybe you even bought a winery yourself or are building a craft brewery?
If you are, then you understand the importance of getting people through your doors and picking your product up off the shelf. The importance of engaging your potential customer and creating a positive connection with them, ideally leading to a purchase. There is no shortage when it comes to other brands and products all vying for that same attention, engagement, and money! When it comes to these buying decisions, a lot of factors come into play.
What are buyers looking for?
Quality. Price. Design. Recommendations. Availability. What else?
How about your brand story? Not your brand as a whole… just the literal story that you and your team tell to your customers while you are in the tasting room or on a sales call. The story that is written on your labels and on your website. Your story.
Hopefully, this story is a lot more than the technical details about your product. While those technical details are very interesting to some, they are rarely the reason your core audience will try your product or remain loyal even if they do try it. Data is boring. So when it comes to storytelling, you need to focus on the experience and emotion of the audience and give them a reason to connect with your products and your brand.
Crafting Your Story:
The art of crafting your story can be the easiest part of your business… or the hardest. Some stories practically write themselves, while some are created out of thin air. With well over 300 wineries and nearly 200 breweries in BC alone, people can find great wine and amazing beer all over the place. Beverage sales are booming as consumers are becoming more educated and more enthusiastic. Again, this means that there are a lot of brands with great stories out there, competing for the buyer’s attention and money. It is now ‘the why’ of your brand that can most easily separate you from your competition and gain you an advantage in finding loyal customers.
This almost always comes from an emotional place. From the brand’s perspective, ‘the why’ is often more literal. It may be comprised of your history, your passion, an opportunity, or even a legacy. From the buyer’s perspective, it is an opportunity to build an emotional connection to your business. Typically, buyers aren’t actively looking for that connection but they know it when they feel it. We all do. It’s that same connection that makes us recommend a bottle of wine to our friends, or choose one restaurant over another. When we make an emotional connection to a brand, we become loyal for reasons beyond quality or price. We become invested as brand ambassadors and place our trust in you and your business.
People want to learn why you are different, but it’s why that difference matters that you should focus on.
A great example of this is in automotive brand advertising… they don’t sell extra airbags, they sell your children’s safety. Use emotion to help create a connection to the consumer. Maybe that emotional connection is to the owners, the property, the packaging, the quality, the community impact, or a million other things.
When you are working to increase your beverage sales, remember that the buyer is not making a rational decision based on facts, data and logic. They are making an emotional decision around their experience with that brand. Then they justify that decision because of the brand value you have built with them. People want to learn why you are different, but it’s why that difference matters to the customer that you should focus on. This can then become ‘the why’ that will drive a customer to purchase.
It is then that ‘the why’ becomes ‘the how’.
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/
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.