Wine Branding | How to develop a wine brand

Massimo Vignaiolo
May 22, 2023
Wine Branding | How to develop a wine brand
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Wine Branding | How to develop a wine brand

The process of wine branding is an aspect that has taken on great relevance in recent years. It is no longer enough to simply have a good product: you should focus on finding new ways to make your wines stand out from the rest. And there are a lot of things to take into account, like the varietal or your target audience.

In recent years, the wine market has had a superlative development. This is reflected not only in the number of wineries, but also in the competition. Now the client has many more options to choose from, and it becomes necessary to implement new strategies to be noticed by him.

The numbers are shocking: according to marketwatchmag, the top 25 wine brands saw their dollar sales grow to $3.79 billion in supermarkets during 2020. Moreover, the top 20 sparkling wine brands have achieved revenues of more than 20% in supermarket chains, compared to other sales channels. The figures are astonishing: sales reached $846 million.

These very high sales figures can only be achieved through a marketing strategy that makes the brand known, generates interest and attracts both old and new consumers. For this reason, if you want to develop your own wine brand, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition. In this article, we will give you the best tips that you can implement in your wine branding strategy, to reach the goals of your wine brand.

What is the importance of wine branding?

Branding is one of the most important aspects in all types of industries, especially if we talk about a beverage. It not only allows people to get to know your product but also to identify with it. And the world of wine is no exception to the rule. But how to apply branding effectively to wine? For that, there are two very relevant aspects: the label and the history of the wine.

Labels

The label is the main visual aspect that stands out in a bottle of wine and distinguishes it from the ones created by private label wine brands, sold mainly in restaurants. In fact, many customers are often guided by it to know whether to buy a bottle of wine or not, because is the first thing they see.

the importance of wine branding - 1

For example, according to the Wine Vines Analytics site, in a telephone survey carried out at the end of 2005, 51% of people said they prefer labels with a more humorous tone. On the other hand, a resounding 81% said they prefer wines with clear labels, which not only allow them to know the characteristics, but also to know what each wine contains.

Without going any further, Brendan Kinzie, the president of wine and spirits company Fortis Solutions Group, noted that “Today’s consumers have hundreds of wine choices available and make their purchase decision in seconds, largely based on label design.”

the importance of wine branding - 2

Meanwhile, the 2020 Global Wine Label Awareness Report indicated that the wine label market had grown to 688 million units per square meter as of 2019. Alexander Watson Associates, the same consultancy that launched the report, highlighted a 2.4% annual growth in label production over the 2019–2022 period. AWA also noted that 20% of the global label market is concentrated in 20 wine producers. This reinforces the concept that the wine label is taking more and more relevance in the purchase decision of customers, and therefore in your wine brand development strategy.

So, in order to build our your own wine label, this is ine of the key aspects to give more relevance to your brand.

Story

The label, as we saw earlier, is one of the fundamental aspects of a good wine branding strategy. But it is not the only one. There is another that we could even say is more relevant: the brand story. A good brand story can captivate, excite and even identify buyers with a particular wine.

One of the important components when telling a brand story is the regions where the wines were made. Without going any further, the study “On the Effects of Storytelling on Wine Prices” highlighted the work done by Johnson and Bruwer. They noted that “almost without exception, the addition of regional information on a label increased consumer confidence in product quality.

The same study indicated that McCutcheon, in this case for the Australian market, had reached the same conclusion.

Steps for creating effective wine branding strategies

1. Define your audience

It is impossible to create an effective branding strategy if you don’t know your target audience in depth. And no, your target can’t be ‘’all wine drinkers’’. There are 6 types of consumers, and each has characteristics that distinguish them from the rest:

  • Traditional consumers: These are wine drinkers who are not looking for new experiences, but rather cling to a few established brands which inspire confidence in them.
  • Image seekers: These are usually willing to try wines with eye-catching packaging and labels.
  • Social consumer: Those who only drink wine at social gatherings (with family, friends, at weddings, etc.).
  • Satisfied sippers: this type of consumer has a lower degree of knowledge about wines, and usually only buys wines they already know.
  • Overwhelmed consumer: this type of consumer tends to be label-driven, as they are overwhelmed by the large number of options on the market.
  • Enthusiasts: This last group is usually more influenced by the positive ratings of a wine to choose one brand or another.

Knowing your ideal consumer in depth will allow you to design a specific wine branding strategy for that niche. Some questions you should ask yourself are:

  • What does he/she think?
  • What are their values?
  • What does he/she identify with?
  • On what occasions do they enjoy drinking good wine?

2. Differentiate yourself from the rest

The wine market is becoming increasingly competitive, mainly due to a large number of existing brands. In the United States, for example, in 2021 there were 11 053 wineries. That same year, in France, the number increased to 27 000 wineries. That means that standing out from the rest can become difficult.

In order to differentiate your wines, you should think about what makes your wine brand unique. It can be, for example, the type of wine you produce or the story of your vineyard. This will allow your target group of customers to feel more identified with your wine over others, which will potentially increase the demand for your wines.

3. Craft an amazing brand story

A good story is key to a successful marketing strategy in the world of wine. This is because it is one of the aspects by which people are guided to choose which brand to consume, since stories appeal to the consumer’s emotionality, and emotion is usually behind most consumption habits.

There are some aspects that you should include in your story:

  • The wine’s place of origin.
  • A remarkable fact that is related to your wine, and that allows customers to connect with it.
  • The values on which your brand is based, and that you will transmit to your target customer (for example, it can be to support local consumption).

4. Having a professional wine label design

The wine label is possibly one of the most important aspects of your wine branding strategy. And not only because it will determine the first impression of your potential customers. Also, the wine label is something they will always remember.

The article “The Importance of Wine Label Information” highlights that “More than half of wine consumers (57%) use the back label as an important source of information.” It further notes that “previous research has shown that back labels determine the perceived value of wines and affect consumers.”

Regarding label aesthetics, Brendan Kinzie points out that, “The label must stand out in a sea of bottles on the shelf and make an emotional connection with the consumer. Design is key to making this happen.” Likewise, he highlighted embossing, debossing, and foil stamping as some of the most commonly used marketing strategies for wine labels.

Also, the font you use will help you convey the message you want to give. If your wine brand has a more traditional target market, then you should use serif fonts. However, if your brand is looking for a more disruptive message, then you should go for sans-serif fonts.

Finally, it is advisable that the color of the label ‘’accompanies’’ the varietal. For example, when designing a label for a white wine, you can use lighter colors. Now, if you are designing it for a red wine, then the best option is to use stronger and more intense colors, such as blue or red. Following this advices about the wine label design, your wines will stand out from private label wines.

5. Use social media to connect with wine drinkers

Use social media to connect with wine drinkers

In recent years, social networks have gained popularity as mass media. Using them to publicize your brand will allow you to get a little closer to your target audience, especially if they are in an age range between 20 and 29 years old.

Of course, if you want to form strong long-term bonds with customers, you can’t leave blogs out of your strategy. According to the article “Exploring the impact of social media practices on wine sales in US wineries” about 1000 people a month read posts on the popular Vinography blog.

Then, creating a blog or a website for your brand and keeping it updated with unique and quality content will contribute to give your product a voice and identity and will allow you to establish a closer and more stable relationship with your consumers.

Social media is a key aspect of your brand strategy, and learning how to implement it will allow you to connect more with your audience, and be more competitive in your target market, differentiating you from all the rest.

How to tell a unique story of a wine?

Tell genuine stories

Every bottle of wine tells a story. And a genuine story can allow a wider audience to form a strong bond with your brand. Therefore, in addition to giving useful information about the ingredients of your wine, you can tell some part of the production process that makes your wine unique.

A beautiful family story can also help your customers identify with your product. But the most important thing is that, when designing the story, think about your target audience. That will allow them to end up leaning towards your product.

Be creative

But does an emotional connection have to appeal to the sentimental? Not always. An emotional connection can also be generated from the humorous. This works well, especially for brands that want to give a disruptive and authentic vision. One of the most concrete cases is that of SLO Down Wines, a wine company that appeals to humorous stories, sometimes bordering on the bizarre, to differentiate itself from the rest.

The label is part of the story

Taking the label as something isolated can be a mistake, especially considering that it is one of the first things consumers see in a wine. Therefore, the label design should not only stand out from the rest of the wine, but also be part of the story. That makes the difference between a normal label design and a professional wine label design.

For example, the label of the Zorro y Arena brand used a fox as a logo, which is part of a legend that takes place on the banks of a river, where the brand is located. The logo itself tells a story, which is accompanied by the other elements of the label. If you need some creative ideas to design your labels, then you can check out this article, about how to design labels that help you drive higher sales.

Using a cork or a screw top, that is the question

cork or a screw top

The choice of using a cork or screw top to close a bottle of wine also conveys a message. Corks tend to be associated with tradition, and are more accepted by this type of consumer. On the other hand, screw tops are more accepted by the new generations of wine drinkers, although they also run the risk of being usually associated with cheap wines. So, you should always think on your consumer, even when bottling and closing a wine.

Should you bottle your wine, or use the box wine format?

 bottle or box wine format

Although bottled wine is more widely accepted than box wine, because the latter is usually associated with low-quality wines, box wine is also a format that we are seeing more and more in the market. It happens that more and more people choose the latter format, mainly for two reasons:

  • It is more economical (its content is equivalent to 4 bottles of wine).
  • It is easier to open since it does not have a cork.

Whether you use one format or another, be sure that it aligns with the message you want to convey.

3 examples of memorable marketing stories

These are some of the wine brands that, over time, have managed to stand out and craft stories that remain in the memory of their consumers, generating empathy and loyalty and expanding their sales margin.

1. Francis Ford Coppola Winery

The film director Francis Ford Coppola stands out for his impressive narrative and scenographic capacity. In 1975, a year after winning two Oscars for The Godfather II, Coppola decided to purchase Inglenook, one of Napa’s most prestigious vineyards.

With strong storytelling and compelling photography, the Francis Ford Coppola Winery brand made storytelling part of the DNA of the company and its employees.

Since its beginnings in the wine industry, Coppola has turned each new product or acquisition into an adventure and a mysterious story to tell.

In 1999 he launched Sofia Blanc de Blancs, a sparkling wine created in honor of his daughter. The bottle, label and packaging reflect Sofia’s mischievous, youthful and adventurous spirit.

Another great example is the Diamond Collection: it has wines like Pinot Noir labeled with a black label and silver typography. The style of the label expresses one thing: the exclusivity of every wine.

The Coppola winery has made sure that buying a bottle of its wine is synonymous with adventure: you are not buying a bottle of wine, you are buying an experience.

2. Wirra Wirra Vineyards

Australian winery Wirra Wirra is another good example of how a good story is often the centerpiece of any marketing campaign. In this case, the brand made the bold decision that the central story would not be their own, but that of their community.

Participating and feeling like a protagonist, even if only for a few minutes, is something that today’s youth deeply crave, and Wirra Wirra knows this well. That’s why they have encouraged their community to share their stories by telling their own experiences and connections with their most famous wine, Church Block.

The campaign was called “Everyone has a Church Block story… What’s yours?” and was designed so that both new and old customers could remember and share with the community fun moments in their lives associated with the brand.

The campaign was a huge success and led the community to generate very positive associations between the brand and happiness and love.

3. Yellow Tail Wine

Finally, let’s talk about another Australian winery: Yellow Tail Wine. This is a great example of the use of the Blue Ocean marketing strategy. The strategy consists of avoiding markets with stronger competitors (the sharks). Instead, it seeks to create less competitive markets, where the brand can become strong.

In the case of Yellow Tail, its founders decided not to take their product to the Italian and French markets, as they could not compete with the quality of some producers. Instead, they decided to look at the U.S. market. There, they managed to become strong with a particular strategy: to present their brand as fun and accessible. In fact, one of the phrases of the marketing campaign was “we take wine seriously, so you don’t have to”.

But that wasn’t the only thing that made Yellow Tail successful again. The brand managed to create an easy-to-drink product that even people not used to drinking wine could consume. On the other hand, the packaging design was much simpler, easier to understand and remember than that of other more “elitist” wines. Finally, they entered the U.S. market with a price below $10, which was in line with the rest of the strategy.

The results were not long in coming. During the first year, 1.000.000 bottles were sold. Moreover, in 2003 it became the best-selling 750 ml red wine in the United States. Thus, it managed to create a new market and take advantage of it. And that is one of the keys to the Blue Ocean strategy.

Final Thougths

Developing a successful wine brand is not an easy task. In the decision-making process, you need to consider your target audience. In addition, you must be sure to develop a story in which you tell not only the components of your wine, but also the story of the place where it is made and what motivates you to make it.

The label of your wine is another aspect that should not be outside of your branding strategy. In this way, wine consumers will be able to notice your wine over others they may find in the market (or in a restaurant).

Also, you should not forget to use all possible means of dissemination, so that your audience can get to know both your wine and its history. The presence in social networks is very important, as it allows you to reach a larger number of people quickly. But if you want to build a loyal and solid audience base, as data shows, then you should not leave a website out of your marketing strategy. An optimized website, with engaging content about your wines, can really help you to boost your sales.
This is the only way to market (and sell) your wines, whether it is an everyday wine or one to drink on special occasions, in an effective way.

Following our advices, you will have more opportunities to stand out from a white label or private label wine brand, in the competitive wine market

Finally, if you want to start your own Cava brand, you can check our In-Depth Guide about Cava wines , where you will learn everything you need to know about these iconic Spanish wines.

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