Branding wine

hesaidshesaidWine This morning I came across a quirky photo of a wine bottle on the Lovely Package blog. The He Said She Said Wine is from Australia, and even if you don't know what to expect as far as the taste goes, you'll probably buy it for the fun design and an original name.

The photo made me think that wine has featured several times on this blog. In one of my posts, I interviewed Rowan Gormley, CEO of Naked Wines. In another, I discussed the Paris Hilton Rich Prosecco brand. I suppose it sends you a clear message: I like wine. :)

Branding of wine can be a very fulfilling activity for wine growers and wine marketers. And yet, how many wine brands can you remember? You can probably come up with some generic names, like prosecco, or "cremant d'Alsace", or champagne, but can you be more precise?

Most probably, not. Or perhaps, you know a couple of small wineries that you visited on one of your trips to the south of France, and you love their wine. But it will probably take you a trip to your cellar to remember the exact brand of your favorite wine.

The trouble is, many wine growers are simply not aware of the necessity of branding their product, and they rarely see the opportunities of better profits and better customer loyalty that a good brand can create. In many cases, they simply do not have any budget and time to devote to branding, which in itself is an activity that needs a lot of time and dedication.

In such cases, they are better off teaming up with another endorsing brand that can serve as a reference point of quality assurance. To give you an example,  the already discussed Naked Wines serves as an endorsing brand for all those small wine brands it sells in its online shop . In fact, I think it is a much stronger and more convincing quality assurance than, for instance, D.O.C.G. discussed in my previous post. Do you imagine anyone saying, "Oh, look, I've just bought a D.O.C.G. wine?" On the contrary, "I've just purchased this great wine on Naked Wines" sounds less unusual, and perhaps more convincing.

Sometimes, even countries can serve as endorsing brands for wine growers. For instance, Cyprus is currently re-inventing itself as a wine-growing country. It is partly a country branding project, and partly an industry branding initiative. In any case, in case of Cyprus, both are intertwined. Here is an image from the Brand Management Journal that discusses the Cyprus wine industry branding approach (Vol 16, No 3, p. 155, Dec 2008):


Indeed, what works well in branding wine is when it fits easily into a well-known geographic reference. That is, a wine label from an "unknown" region would sell less than from a "known" one. So, if you are a wine grower from Tuscany's Montalcino or Montepulciano, and PLUS you manage to differentiate your winery with unique design, you are already several steps ahead of the competition.

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