Like wine, brands improve with age


Ron Leland of Real Life Brand Architecture and I have enjoyed working with John and Kimberly Cabot since they started making wine several years ago. Since then, they’ve grown slowly and steadily, with the quality and diversity of their wine constantly improving.

For our part, we’ve helped their brand evolve and, with it, the primary point of contact with their customers — the label itself.

The initial label featured an image of the local salmon. It’s an iconic symbol for the Klamath River in Humboldt County, where Cabot Vineyards is located. And it started to support our brand image that relied heavily on this unique location. After all, the vineyard site, the appellation — or terroir — is very important to those who appreciate fine wine.

None of us, however, could anticipate the reception among wine-shop owners, who couldn’t get around the idea of a fish on a bottle of red wine.

So our follow-up label featured the elements of a topographic map of the region. We wanted to convey the rugged, steep terrain. And we wanted the Cabot name to be featured prominently as a wine buyer approached the bottle among many others on the shelf.

Design-wise, we believe it was a big improvement. Unfortunately, the execution of the printing itself was not on par with the high quality of the wine.

So with our third and latest pass, you’ll see that the label’s unique texture on an uncoated paper stock really does lend a sense of elegance and sophistication, while doing a much better job of conveying the feel of their remote location in the middle of dense, steep forests. Rub your fingertips across the label and you get a sense that this bottle of wine has a unique story behind it.

Directing a brand image is a constant challenge. You ask: How has the brand changed?  How is it being received?  What elements are working well?  And which can we improve upon?

Our work with Cabot Vineyards has served as a powerful reminder that brands are alive. They’re dynamic. And as brand architects, our job is to continually check in to ensure that the ever-changing brand is being expressed to its full capacity.


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Robert Hyndman

can be reached at his Laguna Beach studio, 949.497.3179, or by using the form on the Contact Me page.
December 2008
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