How Anyone Can Design Labels for Drinks

BY KELLY A. MAGYARICS | April 12, 2021

To paraphrase first-century Roman gourmet Apicius, we drink with our eyes first. Many of us have ordered a wine or selected a bottle in a store because of its packaging or something about its label. It could be Hendrick’s apothecary-inspired gin design, the pop art that’s adorned Absolut offerings or 19 Crimes’ labels that spring to life with our smartphones.

A 2016 study by wine.net said that of 2,000 wine drinkers surveyed, 82% made their selections based on the label. Great packaging melds style and substance, and behind each is a graphic artist or team tasked to create eye-catching designs that encapsulate the spirit and philosophy of the brand. Here’s how to become one of them.

Understand that it’s more than just creating a pretty package

“The designers I admire most are able to deeply understand the core essence of a brand and where it comes from, and can then conjure that into beautiful and effective packaging,” says Luke McKinley, marketing director for Novo Fogo Cachaça.

McKinley earned a degree in international studies and a focus on ethnography. He gained experience by creating video and photo content and managing digital marketing. He works with Novo Fogo’s CEO and graphic artists to oversee the company’s packaging.

McKinley aims to balance consumer education about a less-familiar spirits category and the company’s sustainability efforts with clear, concise information. Design chops are important, but so is the ability to convey unique attributes and sense of place.

How Anyone Can Design Labels for Drinks
Wine Enthusiast | April 12, 2021