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You’ve just tucked away a special parcel of wine into its barrels and you think it could inspire a new product. You think the finished product will sit outside of what your existing customers have grown to know and love about your current range. But you’re short of inspiration to come up with a new label. Who ya gonna call? Emilie Reynolds reports.

Wine labelsThere are actually a lot of options out there for winemakers who are looking to remarket their wines to a different consumer. But the wine industry can be an overcrowded marketplace and often the hardest part of the process is knowing where to start. Nina Chalmers, director and designer of Graphic Language Design in Adelaide, said a well-designed and effective label can be the first step in engaging with a new consumer. Chalmers has developed a guide for winemakers who are looking to revive their presence in the marketplace.

GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
Grabbing the attention of the right consumer using label design is a constant challenge for designers and marketers. In order to get the best result it’s important for winemakers to have a clear idea of the needs and aspirations of those they are planning on marketing their wine to, before employing the expertise of a designer.
Who do you want to be marketed at?
How do you want your brand to be perceived in the marketplace?
A successful brand design starts with the designer being able to gain a full understanding of the client’s inspiration and intention for the product. This is as true for wine label design, as it is for the development of a corporate identity.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Clear and in-depth communication between the designer and client is essential for the brand to ultimately resonate with the target market.
The client should expect the designer to ask plenty of questions at the beginning of the project, in order to tease out the essence of the brand story so that they can translate it visually.
The more successfully a compelling story of the brand is projected through the imagery, colours, font selection and narrative, the more likely the intended consumer is to select their wine out of the sea of competitors.

PLAY ON THE SUBCONSCIOUS
It is also important for the winemaker, or client, to understand that wine selection is a psychological experience for the consumer. The design cues on the label need to appeal to the psyche of the consumer in some way, depending on their needs and aspirations.
According to Larry Lockshin, professor of wine marketing and head of the School of Marketing at the University of South Australia, two-thirds of consumers browsing the plethora of wine brands displayed on bottle shop shelves make their selection based on the look and feel of the label.
This group is made up of mainly new wine drinkers, who are not particularly knowledgeable or interested in wine, but enjoy drinking it. They also care about what other people think and want to have a good-looking bottle on their table and preferably one that looks to be of a good quality.
On average, these consumers spend a maximum of 12 seconds making their selection, so clearly the first impression of the label design is of vital importance.
The subtle cues designers employ to communicate the brand story and quality of the product to the desired target market is the key.

QUIRKY VS TRADITIONAL
Appealing to the emotions of the consumer is one way to encourage them to engage with a brand. If the label concept conjures up feelings of sentimentality or appeals to a certain sense of humour, this could encourage them to select that wine.
Quirky label concepts may only appeal to a niche market, but if that is the intention for the brand, then the design works.
Traditional a more subtle label design is generally seen to be more expensive, while bright graphics on wine labels tend to make them more memorable, which brings us back the objective and the design cues employed to achieve them.

COLOUR AND EMOTION
Colour selection is also important as they evoke certain emotions and taste associations. For example, red is a passionate, warm colour and conjures up tastes of berries and while yellow is also warm, it has more buttery, spicy associations.
Obviously, the shade of the colour also makes a tremendous difference with deeper colours working better as a feature on more traditional label, while brighter, more fruity colours work better on entry-level price points.

IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT BEGINNERS
In order to fully understand target markets, it’s also important to consider that the other third of wine consumers tend to be more “wine-involved”, according to Professor Lockshin. They have an interest in wines, understand the relevance of where the grapes are grown and are discerning about the different varietals and producers.
They talk about wines, read reviews and tend to know the stories behind the wine brands. Being more experienced in their purchases, they appreciate that a plainer label is historically an indicator of a more expensive wine.
They spend about 40 seconds, on average, perusing wine brands in stores, and would be more inclined to pick up the bottles, feel the paper, the special printing finishes and read the back label. This is where the story and people behind the brand become so important.

A SENSORY EXPERIENCE
Because of the sensory experience involved in selecting a bottle of wine, the tactile is just as important as the visual and taste associations certain colours may evoke. Here, careful paper selection and strategic application of foils, embossing and varnishes all play a role in delivering the design cues that give an indication of wine quality.
I concur with label designers who believe in over-delivering on the look and feel of wine packaging by $10, to give the impression of a quality wine, even if the price is fairly reasonable. For the majority of consumers, an affordable wine that looks good on their table and gives a hint of the quality of the wine within is a win-win scenario for everyone.

This article first appeared in Australia’s leading wine industry publication, the Grapegrower & Winemaker magazine, in March (Issue 614).
To subscribe to the magazine, follow this link.

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