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Design partners should constantly challenge you

The Drinks Report speaks to Angus Lugsdin of Salcombe Distilling ahead of his talk at the Drinks Forum being held next week during the Packaging Innovations show at the NEC on February 28th.

Angus Lugsdin Salcombe Distilling

Can you tell me a little bit about your brand, its history and why you started the company?

Where to start? We launched Salcombe Gin in Summer 2016 after about an 18 month recipe development process. Like all good things, it took longer than we had expected to both develop the recipe and build the distillery at the same time, but we believe the results of both were worth the wait!

How would you describe the current look and feel of Salcombe Gin packaging? Is there a particular target audience that it looks to attract?

Timeless, elegant and classic. We set out to create a brand identity that wasn’t bold and brash, but contemporary, classic and timeless, that oozed class and would never look dated. We view Salcombe Gin as first and foremost a luxury brand and a gin second, so every touch point needs to reflect that.

There need to be a few elements that point to the handcrafted nature of the product, but these need to work alongside the principles of elegance and simplicity shared by many luxury brands. We don’t for example go into detail about all the botanicals we use and where they come from. It should be a given that the quality of our liquid is unsurpassed. If a consumer wants to know more, all the information is there, but we choose not to shout about it.

How involved are you in the design process? Are you hands on, or do you prefer to step back initially?

Both myself and my business partner, Howard, have been and continue to be very hands on. We worked with the brand design agency, Made Thought on the initial concept and they went away and developed it from there. It then became an iterative process. We had the idea and they were able to articulate and conceptualise it. Together we were then able to refine it. A good brand design partner should constantly challenge and also inspire you. At the end of the day though, it is your brand, so you have to believe in what is being created.

Looking forward to you speaking at Drinks Forum, can you guide me through the creative process at Salcombe Gin? How do you begin creating a packaging concept?

We used to approach packaging from a purely aesthetics perspective, a rookies mistake! We now approach it from both a cost and also an aesthetics point of view, looking at both aspects and everything in between in parallel. We have a detailed and robust product development process in place, that first defines the objectives and needs and then looks at pricing strategy, margin, development budget, timescales etc. Having a brand plan is key as every product, both liquid and packaging needs to fit within that plan and share the same DNA.

What will you be talking about at Packaging Innovations?

I will be talking about the creation of a brand and the interative development process when working with a brand design agency. I will be discussing developing and leveraging a couple of key design elements and then propagating those through the whole brand identity.

Clearly your gin is a celebration of its namesake town; can you explain to me how you’ve used cues from your surroundings in the packaging of the gin?

This was a difficult choice and the decision to call our core product Salcombe Gin was discussed at length, both internally and with our brand design agency. We decided that the name and word Salcombe was strong enough to stand up on its own and not hamper our growth plans. Salcombe is a brand in itself that is recognised far and wide.

Salcombe is known for being an aspirational destination, famous for sailing and for those who enjoy the finer things in life. The packaging has taken a few design cues from Salcombe itself, notably the coordinates on the bottles are the location of the distillery in Salcombe itself, the nautical chart on the inside of the label, that slowly reveals itself as the bottle is consumed. The bottle labels distinctive shape comes from a gin pennant, one of our core design elements. This pennant shape also forms part of our logo, along with the SDCo for Salcombe Distilling Company.

Start Point, the name of our core variant is an iconic landmark along the coast from Salcombe around which the once famous Salcombe Fruit schooners would pass on their way back into their home port. It was also our starting point, so seemed appropriate.

Are there any trends that you’ve noticed in drinks packaging lately that you would like to incorporate into future looks for Salcombe Gin? Is there anything that you’ll be looking out for at the Drinks Forum and Packaging Innovation?

We always take an active interest in other brands packaging. There is definitely a trend for brightly coloured bottles and labels at the moment, that appears to go along with the trend for fruit flavoured gins, but we are a little more subtle. If we see something that we think is a great idea or particularly eye catching, we have to come back to our core brand guidelines and see if it will fit, or if with a few alterations it would fit. It is very easy to get distracted and lose focus.

Finally, is there anything in the pipeline for the brand? What can we look forward to seeing from you guys in 2018?

There are quite a few things planned for this year. Our key objective is to further elevate and refine the brand. Think luxury first, gin second. We aren’t looking at doing anything radical, just better.

12 February 2018