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What Goes Into Wine-Label Design? Does It Matter?

on 23/05/15 at 11:41 am


imagesDoes blue on a bottle turn off buyers? Will a fussy label hamper the sale of a cheap wine? Some graphic artists have been designing wine labels for decades, and they know what works. Lettie Teague (WSJ) investigates.

ASK SOMEONE THE KIND of wine he prefers and he may or may not be able to describe it; ask someone what kind of wine label he (or she) likes and you’re guaranteed to get a reply. From occasional imbibers to serious oenophiles, just about every wine drinker I know cares about labels—and even employs them as a buying guide. For example, my friend Robert likes labels with silver type but won’t buy a bottle if there are “snakes, frogs or shoes” as part of the design, no matter how good the wine inside may be.

A wine label with wide appeal is a winery’s single greatest sales tool. It can make a good wine more desirable and a bad wine more salable. It is the sole emissary on the store shelf and perhaps, as Corey Miller hopes, a source of great wealth.

Dr. Miller, a San Francisco-based M.D.-Ph.D. turned wine entrepreneur, just launched a label-centric wine company, Bare Bottle, that matches top American design talent with first-rate winemakers from the West Coast. He has partnered with graphic designers, engineers and tech entrepreneurs to form a company whose offerings will be marketed largely through the designers’ social-media accounts. “We think there is a lot of power in these artists and designers,” said Dr. Miller. “They have tens of thousands of Twitter and Instagram followers.” By comparison, he added, most winemakers have small or nonexistent social-media profiles.

A younger generation of drinkers represents great untapped buying potential, according to Dr. Miller, and it is one he is determined to access. “I felt like the wine industry wasn’t saying anything to younger professionals,” he said. “They say young people don’t have money, but they [young people] will buy $200 jeans.”