An exercise in branding – taking your brand to the market – again and again…

The importance of branding is nicely illustrated in the toy market. DORA THE EXPLORER or BRATZ - without the brand it is just another doll. Or is it? While the doll market may seem miles away from wine there are similarities that are relevant. Dora and the Bratz girls have a story, a past, provenance. It is the same with wine. Wine needs a story - provenance - a sense of place. It is an experience to be savoured and remembered. A strong brand is the starting point.

At the recent Bragato Wine Awards in Christchurch, Erica Crawford (Constellation Wines) talked of the need to “spread the infection” of your brand to your distributors, sales people, the trade, sommeliers and the end consumer. In a highly competitive market it is the brand that makes the difference.

The name is important - be it the name of the vineyard, the winemaker’s name or something more evocative. This name, along with the artwork appearing on your label can represent your story or create an idea that appeals to consumers. Animals of various types are popular, especially in the US market. Think MONKEY BAY with its animated lime green monkey swinging across the label, YELLOW TAIL’S leaping kangaroo and SANCTUARY’S frog.

Consider the other following features of a label that can be utilised to continue with your story and image. How about a fanciful label shape - think DOM PERIGNON’S silver shield label, BROWN BROTHER’S chevron label, ROSEMOUNT’S diamond shape label or the elongated label on Palliser Estate’s PENCARROW wines. Font can add to the story - think PENFOLDS and ZILZIE.

But don’t stop at your label. The bottle itself and other packaging gives many more opportunities to repeat and capitalise on your brand. Another opportunity to spread the infection…

Colour can be an important aspect of your branding. Let’s consider the capsule. The capsule can become an integral part of your branding, especially when the wine is displayed or stored in a wine rack - it will be the only part of the bottle that is visible. Think TRINITY HILL’S mountain profile which features on the label as well as the side and top of the capsule. Other examples that carry over part of the artwork of the label to the cap and capsule are SPY VALLEY, MORTON ESTATE, VILLA MARIA and BROWN BROTHERS.

Shapes can and do function as trade marks as they indicate origin - common non-wine examples are the COCA-COLA contoured bottle and the shape of TOBLERONE chocolate. When it comes to wine, traditionally the shape of the bottle is probably more likely to indicate the variety of wine, such as the long bottle used for German Rieslings, rather than the source of that wine. However, as the COCA-COLA contour bottle shows, the shape of a bottle can be a strong brand also. While a distinctive bottle shape is not all that common to indicate the source rather than variety of the wine examples are the MATEUS, J. P. CHENET and ROSEMOUNT diamond series bottles.

Premium wines often come in presentation packs which can extend the wine story and experience and may be retained by the consumer as a memento. This extension of the brand is strongly evident in the champagne market and current examples include the MOET & CHANDON Rose tulip flute set and VEUVE CLICQUOT’S paint tins and carry cases. But there is no reason why presentation cannot also to utilised to great effect for other types of wines. At Christmas it is not uncommon for wines to come in special presentation packs but why not create a whole new experience for your special vintages or premium wines as done by Peregrine for their PINNACLE wine which features a metal label and staple (instead of a capsule), stainless steel canister and story insert. It has been said that in top end restaurants this wine is bought to the table in the metal presentation pack for the guests to savour the whole experience. Apparently they even take the pack home!

There are even more opportunities to capitalise on your brand through its packaging.

How many times have you seen stacks of wine cases on the floor in a wine shop or supermarket. I recently saw cases of TE WHARE RA wine being wheeled down Flinders Lane in Melbourne on a hand truck. Seeing the name of a Marlbourgh wine being delivered to one of the many fine wine bars or restaurants in Melbourne made me think of the journey that wine had been on and that fact that it was near its final destination and would soon be enjoyed by someone. Take this further opportunity to expose your brand to consumers and to reinforce your story.

Be bold - incorporate your whole brand into the artwork on the case. Take the distinctive and fanciful aspect of your branding and retell your story - connect those cases that consumers see with the bottles they have seen or already experienced and give your label so much more exposure. This has been done with great visual impact on the labels, capsules and cases for Jane Cooper’s ALEXIA wine. Alternatively, a differently shaped case will stand out from the crowd as is the situation with ALANA ESTATE’S flatter case.

In conclusion, my advice to wine producers is be creative in all aspects of your labelling and packaging and take every opportunity presented to repeat and extend your brand and your story. Be consistent in the presentation of your brand and look at the big picture to create an all encompassing package which will stand out on the crowded shelf. Colour and shape can function as badges of origin and assist with the market penetration of your product. Our new world wines are something to be proud of - do not overlook the importance of your brand and the multitude of branding opportunities the label and packaging of wine presents to develop and market your distinctive product.

By Elena Szentivanyi. An edited version of this article appeared in Australian & New Zealand Grapegrower & Winemaker, November 2008.

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