The explosion of creativity: the case of Whisky and Gin

The explosion of creativity: the case of Whisky and Gin

Recent industry reports have showcased the recent growth in the British spirits industry. According to Euromonitor's Passport report, the current changes in consumer lifestyle trends, such as changes in cocktail culture, have benefitted spirits such as whisky and gin. Especially sales for single grain Scotch whisky have boomed, as in 2017, the overall sales volume was reported to have increased by 67% (Passport, 2018). 

The booming spirits industry has also attracted new distilleries to open their doors. Visit Scotland has reported that in 2017, seven new whisky distilleries started production, and in 2018, another six are expected to open in Scotland. Similarly, The Guardian has reported that in 2016, altogether 50 new boutique distilleries were opened in the UK. 

As the competition intensifies, producers are forced to find new ways to make their products stand out in the market. This has resulted in more experimental designs and bolder brand identities and experiences which have been described as an ‘explosion of creativity’ for whisky and gin. Let’s take a closer look into what’s happening in the industry. 

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Focusing on design and typography, we can see that a new trend highlighting bold and modern aesthetics is emerging. Whisky and gin brands are embracing braver and bolder designs where lettering is playing a more central role in the brand identity. Examples of strong modern design can be noted in Glasgow’s Clydeside distillery, pictured above, Bruichladdich’s single malt range, which should be acknowledge for it’s strong use of colours, as well as Finnish Kyrö distillery pictured below.

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Another design trend worth noting is the desire to highlight craft and heritage in the brand’s visual identity. These brands want to tell an authentic story through design, highlighting their unique origin story or positioning in the marketplace. For example Copper Dog (illustrated below), despite being a young brand, express their heritage and handicraft in their visual identity, which can be described as a contemporary approach to traditional whisky branding. Related to this, The Guardian has also acknowledged how consumers have expressed their desire for artisanal brands and unusual flavours in the spirits market.

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For Gin, brands are signalling premium positioning through either location (E.g. Edinburgh Gin) or flavour and botanicals (E.g. Pink Gin) (Passport, 2018). Brands such as Caorunn Gin have adopted its origin into its packaging; the gin infuses five gin botanicals and this is represented in the pentagonal shape of the bottle. Beyond packaging, serving suggestions represent a potential avenue for differentiation.The Macallan single malt use a trademark spherical ice cube, Hendrick’s G&T garnishes with cucumber and Kyrö Distillery’s Napue G&T suggest serving with cranberries and a twig of rosemary.

Benefits of a strong visual identity:

A strong visual identity allows the brand to be easily recognised and remembered. As consumers are increasingly basing their purchasing decisions on how the brand resonates with their identity, individuality is becoming increasingly important in spirits branding. Because of this, spirits use their visual identity to showcase personality and brand values. Having a strong brand can also be a key for getting shelf space from top retailers. 

With the rise of social media, the digital estate of the brand is becoming increasingly important. For spirit brands this means that the brand needs to be able to communicate its identity both online and offline, and the brand’s logo, packaging, advertisements and website should all speak the same language. In addition to social media, the development of technology has brought notable opportunities for spirits branding and design. Utilising NFC chips in packaging would allow for a smarter and more interactive brand experience, as well as offer consumers more touchpoint during which they can build a relationship with the brand. With the sprits industry predicted to continue to grow indefinitely, now is a prime time for brand innovation and experimentation. 

Sky(e) is the limit (even if you’re not a Talisker drinker).


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