Create a branding proposal for a new vinery set to be established in the New York State region of Hudson Valley. The vinery will produce natural wines with grapes from their own biodynamic farm. In the words of the client: “The brief is to design a name and identity for what will be one of the finest brands in America. It must communicate our core values of authenticity and beauty. It must be classic enough to reflect our debt to the history of the Hudson Valley, but modern enough to support our leadership of the region into this century. It must also be capable of extending to other luxury lifestyle products, and work across all media.” Based on a research and positioning report the end result shall be presented as a brand book.
This branding project was comissioned by a client for a real project but being in university of course an independent excercise for our course. The photos in the brand book uses a creative commons licence.
The interest in natural wines has grown immensely during the last few years. Natural winemaking means that there’s as little intervention in the winemaking process as possible and these wines are often made from grapes grown at a biodynamic farm. Biodynamic agriculture uses a well balanced natural ecosystem to manage its crops rather than relying on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that harms the local environment. This means there’s a greater variety in the crops which subsequently is also reflected in the wine. This approach is something very different indeed compared to the very controlled nature of common winemaking. Pictured on the right is the research, analysis and positioning report I made for the project.
I conducted a survey that I posted on various wine forums online asking enthusiasts on their view of natural wines. The most interesting replies can be seen quoted on the picture to the left. Several people suggested that natural wine is just an excuse for flawed and failed wine since it isn’t governed by any regulations as common wine is. Some think natural wine is too wild. For some the mere term ‘natural’ is problematic since it implies a moral superiority to common wine. Some appreciate when the winemaking decisions don’t hide the grape varieties and the terroir.
The survey also contained a semantic differential as an experiment to see if a certain personality could be found in the respondents that could perhaps inform me on my upcoming design desicions (it did somewhat, but not to a great extent).
Given that natural wine has a big enthusiastic fan base tired of convention a lot of the brands on the market has a suitably unconventional and excentric design. Riding on that wave could be a way to go but I wanted to create a brand that would not alienate the sceptics but instead be appreciated by broader audience. This went in line with the clients intention for the taste of the wine. In this positioning phase of the project I used the models seen on the right to try and iron out what my approach for this would be.
Based on the brief from the client and my research I came up with the statement to the right. This represent the core idea of the business and therefor influenced all the design choices I took. The picture is from the first page of the brand book.
Based on the brief from the client and my research I came up with the statement pictured below. This represent the core idea of the business and therefor influenced all the design choices I took. The picture is from the first page of the brand book.
The name of the brand is Bretillot Wines, Bretillot being the family name of the client and owner of the winery. Using the name Bretillot my aim was to enhance the view of the winery as non-industrial and small scale and emphasize craftsmanship. The logotype itself communicate the purity and elegance of both the farm and the wine. It implies the honesty and transparency the brand has towards the customer as well as nature. It’s classic and elegant to communicate tradition and quality but still clean, modern and progressive to express their goal to be an example in sustainable farming and winemaking.
As the client wanted the territory to be clearly expressed in the wine I decided to communicate that by making Hudson Valley the centrepiece of the label. The cut-out creates a silhouette of the Hudson River flowing in the middle with the hills either side. These silhouettes are from different places along the river for each type of wine. With a bit of good will the w can be seen as a suspension bridge crossing the river (but put upside down), this type of bridge being a common sight along the Hudson River.
The bottom label simply says what kind of grapes were used and from which harvest. The reason it’s separate is part symbolic and part practical. Since biodynamic farming is less controlled, the kind of grapes you can grow and harvest varies more. So, the composition of the wine is not pre-determined but more influenced by what each season yields. Having this varying information cut out from the static base label this approach is symbolically reinforced. Practically it could be beneficial since you only have to worry about changing the bottom label for each batch of wines.
Bretillot Farms is the umbrella brand of Bretillot Wines and is written around the cap. Since a biodynamic farm will produce a bunch of other products than grapes (Mohair from Angora goats that are part of the ecosystem, for example) there are several sub-brands sprung out of this umbrella brand.
By writing a bit about the character of the season I’m stressing the fact that the taste of the wine is so heavily influenced by that specific harvest and as purely as possible expressed in the wine. The client wanted to be completely transparent about the winemaking process and what kind of interventions that would be made to the wine, so I’ve included that on the label as well. And as a nice touch I reveal where along the Hudson River the silhouette on the front label is from.
Seeing there is a lack of knowledge and controversy surrounding biodynamic farming and natural winemaking I see the different marketing platforms as an important way to reach out to customers. Not only to educate about the process in general but since it is not regulated in the same way as common winemaking the marketing will inform the customer of the specific ways Bretillot Farm is run and Bretillot Wines produced.