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Brand design: Once upon a time

In human terms, age is associated with wisdom and sagacity but also with frailty and decline. Not so with wines and spirits, and for three reasons

Mary Lewis Lewis Moberly

First, appreciation of the millésime, the magic of soil, climate, and skill in perfect harmony. So 1959 and 1990 are great years for champagne. Second is the ageing of the wine or spirit e.g. 18 year old single malt.

But equally important is the story of the brand or distillery.

You can literally be drinking history, real or imaginary. Hendrick’s remarkable gin, for example, claims a lineageto 1860, just “a twinkle in the eye”. A clever stretch of the imagination.

Sometimes the era which is visually celebrated or echoed through the design is older than the foundation itself – think of Chivas Regal whose design projects medieval heraldry.

How then to design time, an era, an epoch? How to design the past in a contemporary context? How to make the bottles and labels look authentic and genuine, and make them appeal to a young audience?

But why is time such an asset for the wine & spirits category?

Not only is maturing essential to any wine or spirit, but the whole process of vinification or distilling does require patience. Time then stands for heritage, expertise, know-how. But this is not where the true magic lies.

 The magic is in the story time implies. Once upon a time…This is when story and time merge to become history. Then the drink proposition becomes much more powerful. You do not simply drink a glass of 18 Years Old Aberlour malt, you sip a masterpiece, the end result of a legend which started with the Celtic druids.

The Aberlour distillery reminds us that the druids were probably the first to use the Lour water to distil alcohol, as a base for their elixirs and medicinal cordials. And this is why when Lewis Moberly designed the brand marque we were mindful of the source... The design for the brand marque needs to travel through time.

Johnnie Walker has a shorter genealogy but began its journey in 1825 when John Walker was making a name for himself in the town of Kilmarnock in Scotland, selling everything from writing paper to his own whiskies and then later in 1843 when he expanded thanks to the arrival of the railway. So when drinking Johnnie Walker, you actually embrace a two-century epic of adventure and achievements.

So we read Time as Story. This is where the design agenda becomes so exciting. When the designer needs to behave as detective, historian and archaeologist combined.

To radically reposition Glenmorangie as the world’s leading luxury malt whisky, we designed a new signet emblem to feature on all bottles and packaging.

This was inspired by the Cadboll Stone, an ancient Pictish standing stone located on the estate of Glenmorangie House. The artistic beauty of the stone (below) with its intricate, highly skilled carvings was the perfect time piece symbol for the brand.

Time does not need to stand still. And time management is, and will be, central to many contemporary brands.


24 February 2014