The Importance of Packaging

The Importance of Packaging

The most important thing a craft distiller must do is make a great product. It could be whiskey, rum, vodka, or any spirit, but whatever it is, it has to be good. It has to be better than good, really.

The big national brands can keep costs low by sheer volume and market saturation alone. All they need is something that enough people will drink. The craft distiller makes a better product, but not countless gallons of it. That small batch and limited in volume but high in quality comes at a premium, which people with working taste buds will willing pay.

The end result is that distillers will often focus so much on the liquor that they forget about what holds it on the store shelves. That is where packaging comes in.

Get Visual

Ad campaigns are great, and that beautiful poster of your brand you got a few local stores and bars to hang up is cool, but when it comes down to it, most of a craft liquor’s potential customers will probably not have heard of you until they see your product on the shelf. If you want that sell, you need to get their attention.

Label design, bottle shape, logos. There is a ton of work that goes into it, and if you believe otherwise, you are mistaken. I know that some brands come in generic bottles with super plain labels that look unremarkable, but that doesn't mean that a team of graphics designers and test markets/focus groups weren't used to decide the “simple look” works. There is no doubt that you will hear the legend of some super successful brand that really did half-ass their bottle and label design. While true, that is an example of how luck can save us from our own shortcomings. Never rely on it though.

Showcase Your Brand

What does bottle and packaging tell us about liquor? Everything. Far more than we can go into here. It can even become a calling card of sorts, like Crown Royal and its bags made of a felt-like substance. Think of it as how we dress – t-shirt and jeans at the casual cookout and a tuxedo at a posh wedding. Mix those around, and you will stand out in a bad way. It isn’t easy. Your packaging does have to stand out from the crowded liquor shelf without looking like a penguin waiting for a hot dog. It also has to somehow speak to your target market.

Remember that the average craft spirit drinker wants something that stands apart from the generic, mass market appeal of the big national brands. Part of this appeal comes from the story behind the bottle and its contents worth it. They want to know the history, and what makes it and the distiller that crafted it unique. In a sense, they want to become a part of that story by drinking it.

Your packaging is that story. If your whiskey is meant to be a blend for the rough and tumble individualists with a flair of the American South West, your packaging better shows that. The same goes if you're aiming to create a sophisticated gin reminiscent of New York during the glitz and glam of the 1940s and 50s. Whatever packaging your liquor comes in, it can’t just tell the story. It has to show it.