Home Wine Business Editorial Shaping a New, Authentic Brand Identity for Napa Cellars

Shaping a New, Authentic Brand Identity for Napa Cellars


New packaging for Napa Cellars’ latest Classic Collection release reveals a dramatic transformation from its previous use of whimsical imagery. The brand now projects a clean, fresh, yet classic, “Napa” sense of place. While this transformation makes perfect sense given the brand’s namesake location, established equities and 40-year heritage, the brand design overhaul required serious consideration.

To help this established brand craft a new image to improve sales performance in a competitive category and marketplace, Napa Cellars brand management engaged Affinity Creative Group. The highly regarded brand design, digital media, and retail activation agency with particular expertise in wine, spirits and other beverage categories, has influenced the look and feel of a wide range of brands, including other Trinchero Family Estates wines.

“While the old illustration was distinct and unique, few people understood just exactly what it was… That it was supposed to represent an artistic representation of a hand reaching for a glass of wine,” explains Ed Rice, Affinity Creative Group’s Director of Brand Strategy. “Interestingly, even if the customer ‘got it’, the imagery did little, if anything, to reinforce the brand’s attributes and equities. During the Discovery Phase of our program, through conversations with tasting room staff, management interviews, and site visits, we realized that the real story of Napa Cellars was completely masked by the previous pen and ink drawing.”

“Thus, we collaborated with a professional illustrator to portray the brand’s namesake—a classic scene of vineyards, highway, and mountainside. What we endeavored to accomplish was an encapsulated story-on-a-label, communicating the name, the brand, and a real sense of place. The result is a much more rooted, authentic, and traditional look that adds credence to the Napa Cellars brand persona.”

“We also created new typography and supportive design elements, including a 5-sided monogram. This makes subtle reference to the 5 original acres along highway 29 as well as the geodesic structural configuration of the original winery, that now serves as the tasting room.”

In addition to developing the ideal artistic expression to represent the brand, Affinity Creative Group enhanced technical factors by specifying an upgrade to paper stock and leveraging the printing process to help convey subtle quality ques. Attention to production details include restrained use of gold foil, matte/gloss ink application and utilization of embossing and debossing techniques.

Dave Derby, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Trinchero Family Estates, expands on and explains the decisions and considerations Napa Cellars brand management went through in developing the new brand identity.

Q: What motivated you to create the new brand identity and packaging?

A: Over the past 15 years we made minor refinements to our Napa Cellars package, but it remained fairly consistent. Given increasing competition and the need to have your label effectively tell your story, we felt it was time to give Napa Cellars a new package that better embodied our history and our classic Napa Valley positioning. We are in an enviable position that our name actually has “Napa” in it. But, we felt the consumer also needed to be visually transported to Napa. Once we had a few final label designs, we conducted consumer research to confirm our new package met our objectives.

Q: How does the new packaging reflect Napa Cellars’ heritage?

A: We’ve been in the Napa Valley since 1976, and we felt our heritage needed to be better conveyed on the new package. A key element of the redesign is the integration of the pentagon symbol. The pentagon represents the Oakville tasting room’s unique five-sided geodesic dome commissioned by founder Charlie Woods. Dominating the rest of the label is an illustration, looking west from the winery, of the winery’s original five acres along historic Highway 29 in Oakville. From the classic font choice to the refined gold embossment, the new Napa Cellars package now embodies the sense of place for which the famed Napa Valley is known.

Q: How does the new brand identity express or relate to the wine profile?

A: When you taste our wines, our goal is for you to immediately recognize that they are sourced from Napa Valley. With roots and vineyards dating back 40 years, we have the ability to pick and choose great fruit from many of Napa’s most sought-after appellations. Each vintage builds and pays tribute to the original five acres on which the winery was founded. As marketers, our goal is to help ensure that what’s on the outside of the bottle mirrors the great quality inside.

Q: Will the new look of the Classic Collection be followed up with a new look for the V Collection and the Winemaker’s Series?

A: Yes, a package refresh for our direct-to-consumer series is next on the list. Also, we have some exciting plans to improve upon the customer experience at our tasting room too.

Q: When the consumer looks at these new bottles, what do you hope is their first impression?

A: Wine has the ability to transport tasters to a special place or memory. When consumers look at our new Napa Cellars package, we want them to be transported to Napa. Whether enjoyed on our picturesque Oakville patio or in a consumer’s living room, we want that Napa Cellars bottle to bring Napa to them.

By Kim Badenfort

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