Case Study by Irina Khvalova RGD, Principal, Colourphill
To expand its wine offerings to the EU market and capitalize on the popularity of their product, Colouphill helped Iron Berry create new branding and labels to change the way people think about Canadian organic fine wine.
With a vision of a sustainable future founded in creativity, choice, environmentalism, education and accountability, Iron Berry’s mission is to produce products that are minimally-processed and naturally flavourful. Fine quality wine is one of those.
The company currently markets a number of fruit wines through the LCBO under the Markland Cottage Winery label. The labels of these varietals are dark in colour and show fruit in water, which the client felt could present a “diluted” image of a fine-quality wine to European wine enthusiasts. Research also showed that berry wines would face an uphill battle for market share against grape varieties in the EU market.
Specializing in product development and branding for new and expanding markets in the food industry, Colourphill was well positioned to help brand and label the wine products specifically for the French and other EU markets.
The rebranding project was completed within a period of four months and deliverables included labels for eight varieties positioned in the mid-price range: five reds, two whites and an estate blend. The target audience was European wine lovers aged 30–50 who enjoy entertaining and amusing their guests with different wine choices.
Company research showed that of all the trademarks owned by Iron Berry, the name Ice Age Estate resonated most with European audiences because it evoked Newfoundland’s unspoiled landscape. After initial exploration and development, Colourphill’s creative team tailored the visual brand to be quintessentially Canadian and very “Newfoundland”.
We explored a number of different design directions, including designs featuring fruits in different styles of illustrations: old-fashioned gravures, watercolours and photo illustrations. We looked at typography with an iceberg icon and an architectural rendering of an estate. We also explored different background colours for the labels, such a white, cream/tan and colours assigned to each varietals (they later became colours for the triangles).
At the end, we all felt that the black and white landscapes photo illustrations with a touch of colour was the most striking and unique way to sell the brand.
The strawberry label took the longest to develop. Initial concept for that flavour included a red tent under a starry sky. The client fell in love with the little fox, and at the end of the day, it became our favourite label as well.
As we were exploring the illustrative creatives described above, we initially assigned colours to each variety as a way to colour-code our production spreadsheets, notes and drafts for the romance copy, which was written to educate the target audience and detail each wine's flavour profile, best use and an appropriate serving suggestion.
The triangles were added to the label design to give more indication of a varietal as the EU distributor did not want to add the name/flavour of the wine to the front of the labels, which depict Newfoundland landscapes and iconography.
Other design elements:
- The Canadian flag and “Product of Canada” feature prominently on the front label.
- The crown above the word mark is a subtle reference to the last name of one of the Company principals, Kroll (King).
The final effect to complement the richness and decadence of these exotic offerings was the choice of an iridescent paper for the labels: Frost Powder shimmer paper from Neenah Paper.
The client and his team took a number of product lines to trade shows, including liqueurs, vodkas and other brand of wines the client owns. Out of the whole line up, Ice Age was the only line purchased by an EU distributor.
- Prioritize product management. Any project that involves multiple elements is first and foremost an exercise in product management. It was essential to make sure that all the details including logo/brand design and naming, label design(s), romance copy, ingredients, UPC codes, paper choices and anything else needed for the brand launch were itemized and recorded. We had to ensure that everyone, including the client and outside suppliers, knew what to do and when to do it.
- Maintain a step-by-step tracking system to avoid surprises and misunderstandings. We usually follow a step-by-step approach and produce a smart spreadsheet(s) with steps, deliverables, tasks, timelines and responsibilities. The spreadsheet is shared with the client, client’s team, suppliers and, of course, our team. We prepare all the costs in advance, including projections of various out-of-pocket expenses, print and paper production variations (e.g. 4 colour vs, two colour print). That process ensures that the client has no surprises and the designer/client relationship does not deteriorate due to presumptions and misunderstandings. We have the clients approve and sign off on every step of the project to ensure that they are happy with the progress.
Find out more about this project here.