Case Study by Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Principal, blok design inc.
The Vine is a wine agency that represents an exclusive, focused portfolio of wines primarily from California and Italy. Established in 2000, it is highly regarded for its selection of authentic, individualistic and distinctive wines, and for its integrity and professionalism.
The company’s identity hadn’t changed since the business was launched. Rob Groh and Anne Jasper, the owners, were looking for a partner to take the brand to the next level. One of their clients, a noted restaurateur in Toronto, had just launched a restaurant with an identity that blok had designed. On his recommendation, The Vine arrived on our doorstep.
When The Vine was first launched, there were few wine agencies with its expertise and knowledge. The ensuing years have brought more players into the field, thus increasingly stiff competition. Rob and Anne recognized that their old identity needed to shift to reflect the company that they had become and to maintain their distinctive position in the marketplace. They also wanted to expand their online presence to better serve their clientele of high-end restaurateurs and wine collectors.
Defining the Brand
To truly understand where the brand should live, we embarked on a simple, but thorough strategic process. We began by sending the client a list of questions designed to provide a deep analysis of their company, their business, their clients and their competition. These included defining the company’s core competency, envisioning The Vine ten years into the future, as well as outlining key challenges and opportunities facing them on that journey. We asked them to describe their clients and their expectations and desires. We looked at the market situation, identifying key competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they represent themselves visually and culturally. Finally, we asked Rob and Anne to define the brand’s personality and attitude using five adjectives only, an exercise designed to capture the brand’s essence.
As the clues to a brand are rarely found on the page, we then invited the client to the studio to talk about the answers. It was through this discussion that we uncovered four key pillars that defined the brand: character, authenticity, artisanal and distinctive. These became the backbone of the identity. We also identified the importance of striking a balance between the history and stature of the company and a more contemporary voice that would firmly place it in a leadership position.
With this in mind, we set out to reinterpret the visual vocabulary of wine through a more modern lens, honouring the craftsmanship and heritage of the industry, as well as the knowledge and passion of the company.
To extend the brand’s presence online, we retained the depth of the vocabulary while creating a simple, elegant experience that would allow clients to easily and quickly access important information, such as price lists.
Is the resulting identity a success? For us, success is not quantitative, but qualitative: is the identity true to the brand? Is it memorable and timeless? Does it consistently surprise and engage? Will it give them enough space to keep on growing? So far, the response from The Vine, and more importantly their clients, has been ‘yes’ on all counts.
Some thoughts on a successful rebrand from Vanessa Eckstein RGD:
- The essence of a brand identity can usually be found in the reason why the business was launched in the first place.
- Asking questions from all sides should give rise to even more interesting questions, which will lead you down a unique path.
- A strong brand identity should be a perfect blend of cohesiveness and consistency; it should engage, surprise and delight without ever losing sight of the brand.