Everything You Need to Know About Craft Spirits Branding: Part 2

The renaissance of cocktail culture has driven demand for intriguing and complex spirits. And the strident re-emergence of whiskey has taken the brown-spirits category to new heights. Add growing consumer interest in the local and artisanal to the mix, garnish the lot with a wedge of lemon, and the craft spirits market is one to toast to.

Read Part 1 of this guide to learn more about the brand platform and making a name.


Now comes the part that probably first came to mind when you heard the term “branding”: what your brand looks like.

The Midnight Moon‘s brand is designed to appeal to the rebel in all of us. Their identity alludes to a generations-back approach to distillation. We’ve created this brand from the ground up. Feeling lawless?


Visual Identity System: The look of your brand starts here. A visual identity system consists of your logo and sub-logos, color palette, typography, iconography, graphics and your design system, aka how it all comes together. These elements should be modular yet cohesive, meaning that they work together but can stand alone. This gives you some flexibility in how your brand is presented across different media and as you grow. A great visual identity system is distinct, memorable and cohesive.

Packaging: Everyone loves beautiful packaging. But packaging isn’t just about looking good—it’s about selling. Good packaging is distinct, communicates what your product is and how it’s different from other brands, and entices consumers to pick it up and pay for it. Liquor packaging is also subject to stringent TTB label standards, which include mandatory alcohol content statements, health warning statements and class and type designations. If you get these wrong you won’t be going far.




Responsive Web: Only reclusive artists can get away without having a website. A fully fleshed-out site can get expensive quickly, so many new distilleries may opt for a simple splash page, a temporary landing page or a microsite with just the basics. You can always scale up to include all the bells and whistles later. Whatever works for you, make sure you build the best site you can for the money you have available. Your website will be what people see when they Google you, so make sure it pulls its weight. And with almost 60% of searches now coming from mobile devices, you’ll want a site that looks good on a phone or a tablet—or risk drinking alone.

Environmental: Planning on hosting spirits tastings, hosting workshops or selling directly to the public? Your distillery is part of your brand, so make sure it ties in with the rest of your visual identity. The same applies for trade shows and events—your booth or stand is more than just a place to display your products. It’s a space to communicate your brand. Go branded or go home.


Absolut went clear, Jim Beam went with a signature, Glenfiddich went smooth, and BACARDI went old-school bat. Rebrands can mark the subtle evolution of a brand, or they can be a revolution. It all depends on the “why” behind them and the direction you want your brand to take.


A New Image: If your branding is dated or doesn’t represent your current positioning, then what you’re promising consumers is at odds with what you’re actually delivering. Rebranding can help shake off an old image or unwanted associations—just bear in mind that your target audience will probably shift as well.  

Changes Are Afoot: If you’ve dramatically changed who you are or what you produce, your old look might not cut it. Rebranding can bring your brand in line with your new business direction, and can help clarify the offerings of different categories, lines and products.

An Expanded Audience: You might have launched with an audience of millennials in mind, only to find that a) everyone’s marketing to millennials and b) there are other spirit-swilling demographics who would love your stuff. Rebranding can help you tap into the demographic you need to grow.

The market is moving: Spirits is a fast-moving, massively competitive market. As consumer demands shift and new distilleries pop up, the market will evolve accordingly. If your branding’s behind the curve, you’ll lose market share to your competitors.




So now you know what you need to do and why. While you can articulate the look and feel that you want for your brand, you’re a master distiller, not a master designer.

Hiring the right design firm should be your goal. All design studios aren’t created equal, and finding the studio able to capture and communicate your brand can take time—but it’s the first step to creating a great brand.

Finding A Firm: Take friends’ recommendations with a grain of salt—you’ll want to look for a firm whose work resonates with you. Browse some portfolios to make sure that they do work that you like and that suits the aesthetic that you’re after. And while quality is key, so is quantity. If a firm has fewer than 3-4 similar projects in their portfolio, they may not have the industry experience to expertly guide you through the branding process. This is a competitive and highly regulated market, and good intentions often fall short.

Pricing It Out: Design costs vary with experience and the deliverables you have in mind. A full rebrand will be more expensive than a website built using existing assets. Still, even the cost for a single deliverable can vary hugely depending on the design firm and the size and scope of your brand. A logo might cost $100 or it might cost $50,000. If the quote you’re given doesn’t align with your budget, the firm may be able to make recommendations.

Value, Not Cost: Having a small budget is understandable. But there’s a difference between genuinely having a small amount to work with and not wanting to invest in branding and positioning. The strength of your brand is its brand – and you may find that it’s a lot costlier to build it retrospectively.


Branding and positioning are literally what it takes to build your brand. Without them you have a product, but no way of enticing consumers to pick it up off the shelves or become die-hard fans of what you do.

But figuring out where you stand and what you stand for can be just as challenging as distilling that perfect blend. Getting advice from an experienced agency such as Device can help determine what separates you from the crowd, as well as what it is that inspires consumers to make you their next drink. If you’re trying to identify your why and what that looks like across the board, getting some pointers from a branding strategist can help get you on track.

Looking for information on packaging your craft spirit? Learn how you can make your craft spirits bottle stand out.

Shane Cranford and Ross Clodfelter are Co-Owners and Creative Directors at Device Creative Collaborative. Device is a design studio specializing in creating heart-pounding branding, packaging and interactive design. We’re daring enough to pitch attention-grabbing ideas that may be out of your comfort zone and then prove we can design them, build them, print them and launch them. We never let fear get in the way of an amazing outcome. 

Our clients run the gamut from B2B to B2C to WTF. We’ve conceptualized and crafted ideas for both start-ups and established companies – from art to ads, booze to books, and cuisine to couture.

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FastaBarista is the Coffeehouse Inspired By The Open Road

Gizmo Studio has designed the packaging and branding for Fasta Barista, a new coffeeshop that takes inspiration from highways and motor travel.

“Fasta Barista is the brand of a coffeehouse chain of fixed prices (everything is for 50 rubles). The visual brand style is suitable for multiple target groups such as millenials and older generations. The brand strategy positioning is the pit stop coffehouse for making a short stop, a place where you can take a breath before starting the way again.”

“The visual variety is built on the American graphic examples of the 70s – the age of highways, choppers, cabriolets and the air of freedom. The brand’s logo is created in this style. The brand style lays on quasi-real road signs that work alone without a logo and may deliver additional style messages to the clients. The style delivers the idea of the quality found with the product and the service.”


Agency: Gizmo Studio

Designer: Vlad Mikhailov

Location: Moscow, Russia

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Fyrn is Changing Up The Furniture Game

Fyrn, based in San Francisco, has recently launched its debut collection – a line of furniture called Stemn. Taking a page from Charles and Ray Eames, Fyrn took an unconventional approach to design and manufacturing to create a line of high-quality American-made furnishings. The line has already caught the eye of some of the country’s most notable architects and designers and in April 2017 garnered product design awards from the world’s largest online architecture platform, Architizer.

The Stemn line’s debut offering is a range of six chairs and stools available in multiple finishes. In choosing to start the line with chairs – typically one of the toughest pieces of furniture to make – Fyrn quickly found a set of discerning customers to stress test pilot builds: restaurant owners, tech office spaces, designers and architects such as Sagan Piechotta and EDG Interior Architecture + Design. The line can be found in San Francisco’s highest-profile, design-forward restaurants, including Bellotta, The Morris, and Piccino. Tables, lounge chairs, and other products will follow in late 2017 and early 2018.

The heart of the Stemn design is an exposed, patented bracket that serves as a durable joint and an elegant aesthetic element. It has the added benefit of making the furniture easily assembled, which allows it to be shipped inexpensively. It’s a modern, elevated version of flatpack that you’d actually be proud of, and want to keep.

In considering how to manufacture the line, Fyrn’s founder, Ros Broughton, quickly discovered that conventional manufacturing techniques and equipment were inadequate because they rely upon and incentivize the use of cheap labor while often falling short on quality. So Broughton relied on his unique heritage and 25+ years of furniture making expertise to design and make proprietary hardware and equipment that served his needs.

Ros said, “Instead of starting with the big vision, I started with the constraints. I tried to overcome them through a system of hardware, parts, and pieces that integrated the warmth of wood with the strength of metal. The design of Fyrn Stemn was inspired by thinking about how I could create a scalable manufacturing process in the Bay Area that would allow for high-end furniture to ship easily, making it more accessible to more people. The products had to be straight-forward, for example, a chair should look like a chair, be comfortable and it should last a long long time.

Dave Charne, Fyrn’s co-founder said, “I think of Fyrn as starting a new tradition of craftsmanship in the US, making it relevant and sustainable – in many ways – in today’s economy. And that’s ambitious. We are trying to do some very basic things that feel quite difficult, even extraordinary: we want to restore lasting value to products; we want to offer a good alternative to disposable culture; and we want to prove that manufacturing in the most expensive city in America is possible through innovation and creativity.”


Designed By: Fyrn

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Ashes & Diamonds is a Love Letter to Napa Valley

Ashes & Diamonds is a new Napa winery, and its label was designed by Grammy-nominated graphic designer Brian Roettinger (best known for having designed Jay Z’s “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album cover).

A love letter to Napa Valley, Ashes & Diamonds is a tribute to the California wine country as it was when it took the world stage in the 1960s; a convergence of modern packaging and old-school flavors. Roettinger, who has also worked with St. Vincent, Liars, Childish Gambino, and Florence and the Machine, and the A&D team (led by proprietor Kashy Khaledi—a former music executive—and award-winning winemakers) wanted to uniquely differentiate designs by creating one for wine blends (modern scrambled letters) and another for single vineyard bottles (minimalistic “black box” label).




Designed By: Brian Roettinger

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Anderson Craft Ales Make Minimalism Look So Good

Anderson Craft Ales was looking to establish the design and branding for their family owned & operated craft brewery based out of London, Ontario, Canada. Brett Lair was behind the clean and striking design.

They have the experience to create amazing beer (their award winning Brewmaster also has a Ph.D. in Microbiology!), but needed a look that is very approachable and will stand out from the many craft breweries in Ontario alone. Anderson Craft Ales is a brand created with longevity in mind and is perfectly balanced between professional, modern, and approachable.









Following a very clean, minimalist approach to their branding, solid white cans allow the hits of bold colour to draw your focus to the beer’s name and help the product line stand out on the shelves.

The back of the cans also feature tasting notes and vital information for anyone looking to understand the beer’s profile better. On the side of the can, the ideal serving temperature and glassware icon is set for people looking to get the full experience.

Anderson Craft Ales was voted as the 3rd most favourite new Ontario brewing company of 2016 out of 45 breweries, took Silver at the 2017 Canadian Brewing Awards for their Cream Ale, and has doubled their brewing capacity in under one year.


Designed By: Brett Lair
Client: Anderson Craft Ales
Location: Canada

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Little Machine Beer is Serving Up Variety

Can of Creative designed the packaging for Little Machine Beer and their amazing variety of brews.

“Little Machine Beer is a 10-barrel brewery, a stone throw’s distance from Mile High Stadium (home of the Broncos). Little Machine produces a staggering amount of styles, including Razz Against the Machine, Tart Raspberry Ale, which brought home a Silver award from the 2016 World Beer Cup. From the circular bar, to the robot themed decor, this eclectic brewery is known for it’s stand-out personality, along with their quality brews.”







Agency: Can of Creative
Designer/Creative Director: Andy Sherman
Printer: Columbine Label Company
Location: Denver, CO

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Kulli is Offering Homebaked Magic with Adorable Packaging

DankaDesigns have created the packaging for Kulli, a line of baking products. The design is friendly, approachable, and sure to stand out amongst the competition on the shelves.



“All of Kulli’s products are made the old fashion way, measured and mixed at home with cup and spoon. Analia transforms simple ingredients into magically tasty flavours! To complement the style and methods, I’ve created a hand drawn brand mark – a magical wooden spoon wand with illustrated ingredients spilling from it. The brand easily translates into the packaging where the variant colour represents the bowl and all the logo elements are spilling into it.”


Agency: DankaDesigns
Designer and Illustrator: Danka Gralik
Client: Kulli Baking
Location: Sydney, Australia

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Old-school tomato soup with cheese, olive, onion & rosemary toasties

‘Here comes the rain again, falling on my head like a memory…’ and yes Annie is quite right, apparently the weather is about turn to mega-rainy-crap all throughout the country from today. (Actually I have gotten to know Annie very well over the last fifteen months – she has kindly sung while I’ve been shooting, cooking, editing, and (very loudly) enjoying a whisky in the evening). So, it feels like we’re allowed to make the most of wintry dishes for a little while longer, and this old-school tomato soup is a great, simple, satisfying dish. It is incredibly easy to make – essentially you just cook the onions for a bit then throw everything else in the pot for half an hour, then give it a whiz – but the depth of flavour is fabulously satisfying. Having cheesy toasties with tomato soup seems pretty much non-negotiable, and these ones crammed with caramelised onions, salty black olives and fresh rosemary are – can I say ‘next level’ – I don’t want to because I bloody hate that phrase, but they really are.
Soooo, in other news, my darling Pog celebrated his 22nd birthday in Melbourne yesterday. God, I do miss my lovelies, and never more so than on special occasions. Thank God for the gorgeous Will who spoilt Henry rotten with lovely gifts and a flash dinner out. I am so proud of how he has settled into his new job, but also that he has had the chance to let his hair down on occasion too – we all need a bit of balance! Excellent. Meanwhile Hoob is still hard at it at uni and with sidelines at work, enticing people to vote (he is outrageously well informed with regard to politics), and a hilarious audition yesterday for a TV commercial…more on that if he gets the job, I hope he does, he would be fabulous. He will be heading up at uni break so I will be in a state of high anticipation next week. The thought that both boys/men will be here, and Will too, for the book launch is about the most exciting thing I can imagine just now – the four of us haven’t been in the same room for a year…too long for me!!!
Anyhoo, I will stop blathering on and get back to work. This soup – easy, delicious, and perfect for gloomy, rainy weather.

Old-school tomato soup:

1 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
2 x 400g tins finely chopped tomatoes
2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 tsp chilli flakes
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup cream
chopped parsley to garnish
1/4 cup Greek natural yoghurt to garnish
Cheese, onion, olive & rosemary toasties
3 tbsp butter
4 slices wholemeal, grainy bread
2/3 cup grated colby cheese
1/2 cup caramelised onions
10 black olives, pitted & roughly chopped
1 tbsp chopped rosemary leaves
For the soup – heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add onion, season well with salt and pepper and cook over a medium low heat for 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add garlic, tomatoes, sugar, chilli, rosemary, tomato paste, stock and 1/4 cup cream and cook for 35 minutes. Use a stick whiz to blend or transfer to a food processor to puree. Loosen yoghurt with remaining cream and drizzle over soup and sprinkle with parsley to serve. Serves 2-3
For the toasties – butter one side of the four slices of bread. Divide cheese between two slices of bread (the unbuttered sides) and top with onions, olives, rosemary and bread ‘lids’. Cook in a frying pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes each side until golden, and the cheese is melted. Makes 2

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