I was fortunate enough to have been asked to judge packaging for brands at Tastings.com/ Beverage Testing Institute last week. What a wonderful experience to be able to see so many aspiring brands submit their outer shell for review, ratings and comments.
My one major takeaway was, as my 12 year old would say: WTF! What the fudge are some of the brands thinking with the colors, writing, size, and brand message.
I am going to share with you some takeaways from the experience and hope that if you and your brand are somewhere in the production phase, please, please print out this article and give it to your product designer.
Make sure your bottle fits within the confines of the use. I know that everyone is an artist and it is critical to stand out on a shelf or back bar but that is not always the smart idea. Tall bottles don’t always fit on shelving within off premise retailers. Wide bottom bottles take up two SKU spots.
I judged a tall bottle that was a bottom shelf vodka! Tall bottles do not have room on the bottom shelf and therefor the retailer will pass on the product. This product will need to be placed on the top shelf and that will cause brand confusion as it is a $19.99 (1.75) Vodka on the top shelf next to $39.99 vodka. Big fail.
Lesson: Make packaging that works for your intended target, not a starving artist craving or your brand designer.
Like it or not, there is some historical precedent to package color and label design. I judged vodka that was in a blue frosted bottle. Blue frosted bottles to me, and the purchasing public, lend themselves to rum, spiced rum or cordial. Vodka that is in a blue bottle on the shelf will die a slow death there, as consumers will feel it is rum that has strayed from home.
With the momentum of craft spirits the labels have gotten so much cooler, sharper. and more irreverent. All the spirit categories are so crowded that often the label is the only thing that will get a purchasers attention.
Black on black does not work! Still worse is black on black in a dark rum bottle. You are openly communicating that you don’t care what the purchasing public thinks or hears.
The label should not look like a screen shot of CNBC during a stock rally with all the scrolls to the left, right and bottom. Simple, clean, and proper communication will win the wallet battle.
Lesson: Design your color, label and text as though you are the brand buyer and not the brand designer/ owner. You will always come back to the simple phrase, “KISS”, keep it simple stupid! The top selling vodka, Absolut, has one simple word. That is it. Heck, some of the older Orin Swift wines, don’t even have words at all!
With the strength of the craft movement and new wineries vying for attention at every store, restaurant, bar and club it is important to know that consumers purchase VISUALLY. The decision process is under 20 seconds within a small wine/ liquor store. In that 20 seconds you need to communicate value, quality, uniqueness, and style. If the purchaser cannot discern this quickly and easily your brand will be dead.
The winners from yesterday were chosen by label, size, shape, clarity of text, and ease in brand message. When you and your team at the winery, brewery, and distillery sit and design your bottle and label, think of the purchaser and not your inner Picasso!