The tendency to create a label early on or first in the branding process is understandable. From the producer’s perspective, a wine label is the visual extension of the winery’s “raison d’être”, and is therefore a crucial part of the wine marketing and brand communication process. From a consumer’s perspective, labels are often the first cue in the purchasing decision and one of the most memorable aspects of the winery after consumption.
And from our friends at the TTB, regulating them is an opportunity to “ensure that products are labeled, marketed and advertised in accordance with the law”.
In discussing marketing strategy with current and prospective clients, I’m often confronted with label questions and involved in discussions surrounding creation or redesign. Based on my experience, it seems that the label is the first item to be addressed when launching or repositioning and the first aspect of communication to be blamed when sales are not performing as expected. In short, we in the industry place a tremendous value on our labels!
Below, I’ve assembled a short list of what your label “should” and “shouldn’t” attempt to do for your wine:
Provide visual cue to consumer at point of purchase
Support target sales market
Serve as extension of brand’s meaning and value
Be part of integrated communications platform by offering opportunity to communicate with font, shape, color, info provided and logo
Be compliant with our friends at TTB
Ideally serve as sole reason for purchase (for super premium wines and above)
Constitute sole theorized reason for increased or lagging sales
Substitute for brand plan or business strategy
Substitute for communications platform including trade, media and brand marketing
Take up the majority of you time in dealing with TTB
Valuing a critical aspect of a winery’s look and feel is not a mistake. However, basing your marketing and/or sales plan around your label does not constitute sound business practice. I view label (re)design as a secondary tier in the brand’s decision making process.
So why is the label a secondary aspect of marketing? Before addressing the “look”, a winery should deal with two vital elements: 1) create a brand plan including message, value proposition, and identity; and 2) develop a marketing plan defining how your brand will communicate with its target audience and stakeholders and shape the experience with your wine. In understanding your message and for whom it is intended, you’ll ensure a stronger visual and ultimately a label that will convey more meaning for those selling and enjoying your wine.
 http://www.ttb.gov/about/index.shtml: “Our mission is to collect alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and ammunition excise taxes; to ensure that these products are labeled, advertised, and marketed in accordance with the law; and to administer the laws and regulations in a manner that protects the consumer and the revenue, and promotes voluntary compliance”
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