CREATING A CONSUMER FACING BRAND : VIRGINIA SPIRITS INDUSTRY

 

The ask: Develop a distinct consumer facing brand for the Virginia Spirits Industry that differentiates it from competitors in the US craft spirits industry.

Research methodologies:

To understand how the average person consumes and experiences spirits as compared to wine and beer, we studied different people, their habits and behavior towards alcohol. We conducted consumer and expert interviews to understand the current perception of spirits in Virginia, ethnographies at local bars, restaurants and events, craft distillery tours, a survey that was answered by 300+ people globally.

Learnings:

  • The graduation mentality (Sip vs. shot): As people mature, their palates grow. Over time, a person graduates from chugging beers to exploring more sophisticated drinks, sipping on their cocktails and enjoying their whiskeys. 

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  • Spirits allow you to unwind: They make you feel relaxed and are meant to be enjoyed slowly.
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  • Odors are effective as reminders of past experience, much more so than cues from other senses, such as sights or sounds: People value and reminisce the memory associated with each spirit. More than the craft and the history of the spirit, people care about how it makes them feel.
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  • The Slow Movement: A cultural revolution against the notion that faster is always better. The Slow philosophy is not about doing everything at a snail's pace. It's about seeking to do everything at the right speed. 
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Target: Using our primary and secondary research methodologies stated above, we developed the following personas to understand our target audiences:

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A. The time savers

They’re living the fast paced, busy city life and in their free time they like trying new local bars and restaurants with friends and family. They treasure the rare moments spent with loved ones.

 

“In my free time I’m continuously seeking new experiences, interesting stories, and I’m willing to pay more for them.”

 

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B. The Savourers

They appreciate a good whiskey for its taste and love to add to their collection. They want to know the story behind a rare spirit. Their idea of making it an elevated experience is by sipping on it slowly; it transports them to a calm place.

 

“It’s more worthwhile to sip spirits slowly and enjoy the nuances. Spirits is more like a specialized treat for oneself.”

 

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Human truth: People are constantly on-the-go, always in a rush. Time is money for them. They make to-do lists to save time, use productivity apps to save time. They have forgotten how to slow down life’s pace for a minute and just be lost in the moment.

Cultural truth: The Slow Movement includes the association of speed with products that are processed and slow with things carefully crafted by hand.

Product truth: After visiting a whiskey distillery, we learned about the ageing process of a spirit and how spirits' distillation and maturation takes years. The notion of time embodies the care and attention that goes into the preparation of all the spirits. 

Opportunity: Leverage the notion of time by embodying the spirit of slowing down in life, stop rushing and enjoying the moment.

Brand Strategy: The moment between the sips

Mission: Virginia Spirits appreciates the moments carefully crafted by each distiller, from the first pour to the final sip. We aim to elevate your experience whether on classic bar stools at your local watering hole, your favorite armchair at the end of a long day, that old rocking chair on your front porch, or anytime you need a reflective moment. We raise our glass to the moments born between the sips.

Values:

  • Have respect for our makers, our heritage, our future, and our drinkers.
  • Always wait for the spirit to decide when it is ready.

  • Remember to measure moments in sips, not seconds.

Tone: 

Sentimental BUT NOT weepy

Romanticized BUT NOT mushy

Sincere BUT NOT blunt

Communications Strategy: Take time to savour the moment

Concept: Every sip tells a story

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Manifesto

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Visual Identity

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To impart credibility and quality, we added a wax seal with a vintage look and feel.

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Print

We emphasized slowing down, romanticized drinking and the time spent while drinking. And by doing so, savouring the memories from the past and creating new ones.

Merchandise 

 Sampler kit

Sampler kits are a low commitment way for people to experiment with the spirits before buying the bigger bottles.

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Point of purchase 

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Social

After interviewing multiple bartenders in Richmond, we learned that there’s no better storyteller than a bartender. They’re the ones who see people at their best and worst, have long conversations with them and in the process become a part of their stories too. They also act as brand evangelists for us and help us in getting Virginia Spirits in local bars and familiar among consumers. So we decided to share their interesting stories on social media.

(These are real stories that local bartenders in Richmond shared with us.) 

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Experiential

Our 'Message in a bottle' campaign is an on-ground experiential campaign where we will leave bottles in different bars and distilleries with 10 coupons for free tickets to the next road show. It will be like a treasure hunt where we will post clues on social media, in the form of poetic stories about a particular bar or distillery.


Team: Hannah Levy (Creative Brand Manager), Brianna Gross (Copywriter), Michael Lee (Art Director), Trevor Naughton (Experience Designer)

 
Sachee Malhotra