A wine label should communicate your brand, your uniqueness and increase the perceived value of your wine. A wine label is your biggest piece of advertising and the first contact most people will have with your wine. Is your label communicating who you are?

Think about this fact: Our senses take in about 11 million bits of information every second, but we are only consciously aware of about 40 bits of that information. This means that our brains are often taking shortcuts.

For example, when I give presentations on wine label design, I often show the below photo and ask “which wine costs more?” In other words, “which wine is of higher quality?” It’s impossible to know the quality or taste of the wine by staring at the photo, but at EVERY conference I have presented EVERYONE says, “the wine on the left.”


Which wine is better quality?


How can they possibly know that within seconds of seeing the wine label? The answer is because our brain is taking in so much information, it makes assumptions on our past experiences. So, in this example your brain is noticing the subtle differences – the serif and script fonts vs the sans serif fonts, the more detailed illustrated logo, the additional white space – and comes to the conclusion the wine on the left is more expensive.

You might have noticed that I said the differences between the bottles. According to Unconscious Branding,”The human brain is fundamentally attracted to what is different. If it were not, we would never learn.” This is why we like the below exercises even as a kid. Can you spot the differences between the two photos?


Example of how our brains love to spot the differences


Why are we engineered to notice the differences? This dates back to our hunter/gather ancestry when we relied on this tool for survival. Something is different? There could be danger. Everything is the same? These berries are safe to eat.

Knowing this thought process allows you to understand why differentiation is so important in your winery. Our brains are wired to put things into categories and the further you describe your niche, the easier – and faster – people will recall what you do.

Being known as a California winery is not going to help people remember you, but being more specific on how you are different will. For example, which winery would you remember? One that describes its wine as “A California Chardonnay” or the one that says, “Our ‘Spitfire’ Sauvignon Blanc derives its name from the World War II Spitfire planes that used to land in our vineyard in Marlborough, New Zealand?” At dinner celebrating our anniversary this weekend, the sommlier told my husband and I the latter story. 6 months later, I still remember the name “Spitfire.”

So what can you do to be different from your competitors? In other words, how can you be memorable like Spitfire? The answer lies in defining how you are unique and then differentiating yourself. A good exercise that I ask all my of clients to do is to answer this question: Only (your winery) delivers (unique differentiating benefit) to (target audience).

You want to position your winery so its crystal clear what you stand for. Branding done correctly will help people remember you and respect you as a wine expert.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Brands that concentrate on brand recognition win. Think of Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi. Did you know that in blind taste tests people consistently choose Pepsi? Yet in studies where people are hooked up to electrodes and shown Pepsi and Coca-Cola logos, Coca-Cola is chosen every time. How does that happen? Coca-Cola focuses on creating a memorable brand, whereas Pepsi has changed their logo over and over.

I often tell my clients, most winery owners do not have the luxury of personally selling EVERY bottle of wine, so your wine label needs to convince that undecided shopper to “buy me!” What does your label say about your brand?

Like this article? Come listen to Rebecca Ritz, owner of Bauerhaus Design on Thursday, February 19, 2015 in San Marcos, Texas at the TWGGA Annual Conference as I speak more in depth on “How to Increase Retail Sales with Wine Label Design.” Looking for a speaker on wine branding? Head on over to my speaking page to read more about my most popular presentations.