Does the label do justice for the brand?

Posted on July 05, 2017

We’ve already determined that most of the time when shopping for a bottle of wine, you are judging the book by the cover or the bottle by the label so to speak – but  for most of the part you make your decision based on what you see in your hands.  Based on this, I would like to ask the question – How do you feel about brand value? Are you happy to shop around and flip from one brand to another regardless, or do you have a particular brand that’s earned its place in your heart? (Ok, so that was two or three questions)

The point I am getting to is whether or not the label of a wine is doing fair justice to the brand?

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Those of us who have our favourite wines pretty much forget about the label as it has long since lost its importance to us – and since the relationship is that of a more mature one – it’s about what’s inside and not the looks anymore. (The ultimate love story) This is a very important goal for producers to achieve – however not everyone does, and as a result they go about changing the label from awesome to horrific in a short space of time, losing both the  visual impression which over time is likely to establish some form of recollection in the market and secondly damaging the brand beyond repair. (Breathe, that was a long sentence!)  The truth is that once a brand name has “sunk” the only way to achieve success would be to aggressively revive it (a pretty costly exercise) or create an all new one.  (When referring to a “brand name” I am not only referring to the producer, but also to individual brands owned by a producer)

Designing a label is probably one of the most important and risky challenges of any producer and the questions they must answer are endless. What are people shopping for, what will catch their eye, what will grasp the attention and ultimately what will make people WANT it? Thereafter, they must ask themselves:  How do I best project my brand to the market, how do I incorporate the most significant elements of my brand, how do I stay within my brand guidelines and the big question becomes - How do I do this all at once?  That’s a lot of information for one little wine label! But at the end of the marketing meeting the strategy needs to be as creative as it is intelligent.

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If, say you really wanted to see all this information on a label, it would probably end up being horrendously cluttered and confusing. In fact you’d have very little place for creative design as the label would look more like a mini brochure! –and hence this is not the ideal solution. (Though sadly I’ve seen some who still try to make this work...)

Less IS more. This is the 21st century and we’ve pretty much become accustomed to the beauty of minimalist fandangle’s on the things we love. Gone are the doyleys (except in my mom’s house) and gone are the lengthy descriptions, excessive patterns, colours and whatnot. Plain and simple, yet thoughtful design is most definitely more in line with the times. This does NOT mean that every label should only have a word in one colour but it does mean that more creativity needs to be implemented in what you put on the label and how it’s meant to impact on the consumer.

It’s not only about the graphic design on the label itself either. In many cases producers have cottoned on to the power of packaging and together with their design crews are bringing in more and more important elements to really “dress” the brand in effective packaging.  Label paper for instance can have a huge impact on the presentation of a bottle. In recent times we have seen a massive increase in the variety of paper types used for labelling – bringing with it not only a visual impression but a tangible one too. Other factors that also play a major role in influencing the “looks” of the bottle include the bottle-neck sleeve, a neck tag, the back label, the box or bag it comes in and various other forms of advertising the brand. Uniformity is of course king in this game – and though this is a no-brainer, there are again numerous factors that need to be acutely implemented in successfully achieving this important criteria.

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But let’s go back to the focus point of this blog – DOES the label do justice for the brand? There probably is no definite answer here either but rather a two-sided one at best, and that is yes in some cases and no in others.  Depending on the current reputation of a brand or how well-known they stand in the market place would possibly provide some kind of tolerance levels as to what are “must-haves” on the label and what are not. Once these boxes have been ticked and only then can any producer go about that they would ideally “like” to have on their label. 

If you think for a minute about some of the greater brands that you enjoy or the ones you’ve become loyal to – they would probably get away with any basic form of identification to make sure you spot it and that’s all that matters – but for most this is not the case. When you are shopping for something new – and especially something you’ve never tried before, your judgement is a complex one – and sadly the best analysis of this is that of averages. So if you, unlike the averages go about selecting on unique criteria.... well that would constitute a whole different market too!

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The good news is, we’re not all the same and we therefore do not all shop for the same thing. The market place for wine and labels is a vast and diverse one and that is ultimately what allows producers to be more liberal in their choices.

That said, producers will remain at the mercy of their own design choices. Do they or don’t they? Take a chance and be different - or remain within the boring conservative limits of “the way things have always been done”? There is no right or wrong here – and thankfully so, because can you imagine if everyone conformed to a majority rule how terribly boring our wine shopping excursions would be! (My life would lose value)

From a consumer point of view – I welcome variety, the creative skill and efforts that go into the design as well as the brand elements that present them in some way or form.  Furthermore I admire those producers who take the risk to challenge the norm and bring us labels that entertain, impress and often win our hearts!

To those producers out there: Keep up your brave marketing attempts and may your brand reap fantastic rewards!

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