Picture this – you’re running late for a party and you feel the need to bring something to share. You stop by the nearest liquor store to quickly grab a bottle of wine.
What made you choose that particular wine? What was it that made that specific bottle stand out from the rest in your rushed decision?
No matter how much time you take in your wine purchasing decision, so many things factor into shopping for wine – the color, the type of grape, where it’s from, the price point, the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV), the description of flavor profiles, and, yes, the wine label design.
Like it or not, much of the success of newer wine companies has to do with much more than just how good the wine tastes. It could be the best-tasting wine in the world, but if the marketing and design don’t connect, no one will know or want to try.
For most, a well-designed wine label is crucial for being picked up off the shelf and is almost as important (and memorable) as what’s inside the bottle.
Wine Label Design Can Influence Purchase Decision
More often than not, when we ask friends and family (who are by no means wine experts) how they choose new wines to try, their typical answer is that they pick a bottle based on the wine label design.
As design nerds, we, too, have to admit there have been times where we’ve gone with the better-designed label when it comes to trying a new bottle of wine. In fact, a few years ago, Wine.net did a survey asking wine drinkers to choose between bottles of wine with only a picture for each. 80% chose their decision based on the label.
To sommeliers and wine connoisseurs, this may be seen as a shameful thing to do, but to the majority of casual consumers, the design of the wine label is most often the first thing that grabs their attention. Sure, the typical wine enthusiast may know certain regions they’re familiar with, a particular grape they enjoy, or even different flavor notes as described on the bottle.
However, when there are several malbecs on a shelf to try and choose from, the more appealing label may stand out from the rest – even if the wine doesn’t end up tasting that great.
Some other fantastic, flavorful wines may not have the opportunity to be tasted if the consumer doesn’t share the same taste in design.
We’ve all heard of the saying to “never judge a book by its cover,” but a well-designed wine label will never hurt your chances.
What Makes a Good Wine Label?
Wine label design can be quite overwhelming, especially considering the competitive nature of the wine industry. Wine is growing in popularity, more specifically among younger crowds, so to stack up against the competition, there are a few things to consider when it comes to the label.
A good rule of thumb is to take a page from the beer and spirits industries, which are leading the way when it comes to label design. They make the most of the small space they’ve been given as far as labels go, with the smaller sizes that cans and bottles have to work with. They’re paying attention to a few things that really “tap” into more brand awareness and sales.
Design may never look good enough if the brand identity isn’t established. Ask yourself a few questions that may spark some things you can really bring out in your brand and voice.
- Who are you?
- What is your story?
- Why did you decide to start a wine company?
- Which of your personality traits do you want to incorporate into your brand?
- What are some things you like about wine that you want to emphasize in your brand?
- What were some frustrations that you’ve seen within the wine industry?
It may seem obvious to address these questions, but dive deep – the more detailed you can be in this self-discovery, the more “color” or personality you bring to your brand. You’ll see how easy the rest of the steps become the more thorough you are at this very first step (as well as the next).
Define Your Audience
Now that we’ve talked a ton about you and who you are, let’s talk about who you want looking for your wine bottles on the shelf.
- What do they do for a living?
- What do they do in their free time?
- Are they conservative and traditional, or are they explorative and adventurous? Maybe a mixture of both?
You’re not going to satisfy everyone, so the more specific and “niche” you can get with your audience, the better. A broad audience won’t serve you well. That being said, don’t be surprised if an audience you didn’t expect starts to appreciate your brand and wine.
Learn about them through other brands they like and interact with. Create polls and surveys. Engage with them.
Your audience will let you know what they want and what they’re looking for in a wine and a brand.
It also helps to do a bit of research on some competitors in the wine industry. What do they like about that wine (and wine label design, for that matter)? What do they dislike about it? Capitalize on what you find about your competitors’ audience, without shaming or “trashing” on other companies. Your audience (and theirs) will appreciate your brand taking the high road.
Create a Unique Color Wheel
Ever heard of the saying “showing your true colors” before? If you haven’t, it basically means to reveal yourself as you truly are – to show your true personality and character, even in tough or trying situations.
If that was said about you, what “colors” might those be? What colors might your personality and character be?
Show your true colors. Keep those colors top-of-mind in this color wheel practice.
There are a lot of traditions in the wine industry, from the colors of the bottles (to prevent oxidation and sunlight, etc) to the colors of the labels on the bottles. Typically, red wines have darker, more “moody” colors, like dark green, dark gold, or dark red. With white wines, more light colors are common, like a light blue, a light gold, or a light green.
We believe the best wine label designs are the ones that break the mold, however. Use a color spectrum that’s not typically used with wine. A suggestion would be to use some warm, bright colors for a dark red wine label – rich, cooler colors for a white wine label.
Incorporate a color wheel into your brand, logo, and font that includes both sides of the spectrum, but don’t go crazy with the number of colors.
Three or four colors are plenty – enough to differentiate between types of wines you offer, enough to create contrast, but not too many to confuse your audience and lose a bit of your brand recognition.
Create a Typography Style
The type of font should not be the last thing to consider, even though it’s not the first thing we’ve mentioned. The typography is as important as defining yourself as a brand. If it’s a contemporary, modern brand, then bolder, simpler fonts are best.
Serif-like or helveticish font, or something less complicated. A courier or a typewriter-like font could also do well for a simplistic style or brand. Play around with uppercase and lowercase letters as well, as this could help spell out the style of your wine brand.
If there’s a lot of tradition or history behind the wine and brand, fonts can take on a more customized, fancier look. A lot of older wineries use a cursive or old-world-type font, usually with one letter or element being slightly larger than the rest. This creates more emphasis on a certain aspect of the font to make it more eye-catching, or to connect the font with some history behind the wine or brand.
Give Extra Attention to the Fine Print
Yes, people are actually reading the label and not just admiring it, so it’s beneficial to include all information about the wine as possible.
Usually, when it comes to design, less is more. However, in this aspect of the label design, the more information, and details, the better.
If people are not familiar with this wine, after being intrigued by the design of the label, they’ll most likely pick up the bottle and look to read more about it.
No matter where it’s located within the wine label, be sure to include things like:
- Full name of the winery
- Type of grape
- Harvest year
- Region of the grape
- Alcohol by volume/percentage (ABV)
- Characteristics of the wine (sweetness, acidity, body, etc.)
- Flavor notes of the wine (cherry, chocolate, cinnamon, citrus, etc.)
Wine Branding and Storytelling Through Design
Wine is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in history. Some wineries have been around for centuries, so there’s usually a good story to be told.
Half of the reason wine tastings and tours are so popular is that wine enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike usually enjoy the rich history of the wine just as much as they enjoy the taste of it. The taste of the wine speaks for itself, but as we’ve said before, a lot of wine companies don’t get the opportunity to show off their wine because the label doesn’t share enough of the story and brand.
Wine drinkers (and any type of consumer for that matter) want to find a unique, personal connection to the brands they purchase from.
The better you can tell your brand’s story through the wine label design, the better the chances are of your wine being chosen from all the rest.
The more attention is given to branding, design, and marketing, the more attention your wine will likely get.
Wine Label Design Ideas
If you’re still having trouble with designing a wine label, perhaps you’re overthinking it. We tend to make it harder than it needs to be sometimes.
Let’s start with our roots.
We’re all influenced by something to a certain extent, from our mannerisms to the way we dress, how we interact with each other, and how we view the world.
Incorporate some of those influences that have shaped who you are into your design. After all, you’re not just sharing your wine with others – you’re sharing a little about yourself. What personal influences of yours do you think may help influence others (even when it comes to buying your wine)?
When it comes to influence and inspiration, take from other designs and ideas. You can still make something unique and original, even if there was another design that inspired you to go a certain route.
There are a few trends and patterns that you may want to consider that have helped shape other successful and impressive wine labels and brands.
Some of the most successful wine brands have incorporated a little of their personal history, heritage, family legacy, and ancestry. Do you know much about yours? Is there a coat of arms or family crest that may fit well with your brand identity?
As humans, we have a strong connection to the animal world, whether it be a personal pet, a spirit/power animal that we associate ourselves with, or just a love for animals in general. Animals mean different things for different people and cultures – what do they mean to you? How can you incorporate that into your wine brand?
In my opinion, one of the keys to happiness is having a hobby. Hobbies give us a healthy outlet and they allow us to reconnect with ourselves. If you feel inspired by a certain hobby, don’t be afraid to try and incorporate that into your brand and wine label design. It may trigger a buyer to think about their favorite hobby (which may even pair well with your wine).
Hopefully, these few trends and patterns may help spark some creative ideas of your own.
Wine Branding and Marketing Services
We get it – your specialty is wine. Branding and marketing may seem overwhelming for most wine companies, but for The Brandsmen wine marketing services are our specialty. We geek out about what we do. When it comes to products that we personally love (like wine), it’s even more special. Authenticity speaks volumes about a brand or product, so we pour our heart and soul into creating wine brands and labels, which leads to consumers pouring a glass or two of your wine, which leads to your wine brand being talked about online.