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How to Design Wine Labels

Many specialty winemakers have questions about label design. It can be a complicated topic that takes into account many factors, such as size and shape of the bottle, the type of wine, the price point of the product, and the overall branding of the company. Often wine professionals go through many iterations before finalizing the label that's right for them, and for this reason it's important to work with a wine label manufacturer who supports hands-on customization.


Wine Label Styles


There are many styles to choose from. You may want to go with an oval or square shape. You might want a style that evokes history and tradition—emphasizing the year your brand was founded, featuring graphics of historical or rustic scenes, using traditional fonts, etc. Or you might go with an artistic or abstract design to attract a younger, more offbeat consumer. Minimalist labels, with lots of white space, simple fonts, and limited graphics, work well for some brands. Ultra-modern styles may try to evoke humor or current trends, or appeal to specific audiences, such as wine and painting classes or suburban wine tasting groups. Again, it's important to consider your audience and study the styles used by your closest competitors.


Trends in Wine Labels


Today many wine labels look very different than they did in the past. Although traditional looks may continue to work for some brands, the industry overall is trending toward minimalism and differentiation.


Less is More


Many modern labels feature as much white space as possible on the front label. They may only feature a single image in the label’s center, with the brand’s name or logo down in the corner, and nothing else. What kind of wine is this? What does it pair well with? To find out, the wine shopper is going to have to pick up the bottle and turn it around.


As it turns out, this is actually an important step in the buying process. Once a consumer holds the bottle, they have the opportunity to feel and appreciate features of the label, such as texture or embossing, that signify quality. Holding the item also provokes a sense of ownership, and consumers who touch products are willing to pay more for them.


Controversial or Edgy Labels


In the past, many wine labels looked similar, with traditional fonts and images. No one wanted to produce a controversial or emotionally dark label. But today, some brands have found success with images such as a man in chains on The Prisoner’s label. Other new brands have names featuring profanity, while others feature text or images that allude to sexual situations.


While edginess doesn’t work for every brand, it has shown success for some new brands, and may provide opportunities for older labels looking to rebrand. Once a label catches a consumer’s attention, they’re more likely to pick it up, read the back, and put it in their cart. Controversial labels work best for brands targeting Millennials or the portion of Gen Z old enough to drink, as older generations may be less accepting of labels that push the envelope.


Bright Colors


Color trends vary a lot, and frequently, in wine label design. A few years ago, bright colors like yellows and pinks were popular, then they faded away as darker shades grew prominent. Now, subtle splashes of bright color are working their way into many labels, including some sophisticated, high-end brands.


Today, the trend leans more toward small, carefully placed segments of bright colors as opposed to filling the background with a yellow or red shade. The bright colors may also be juxtaposed against a dark or neutral background for contrast.


Asymmetry or Unusual Shapes


Another current trend is for the whole label to be shaped like an object or feature of the label, instead of the standard rectangular or oval shapes consumers are used to. The label itself might be shaped like a floral pattern, an ocean wave, a company logo, or even the shape of the text on the front label. This can be paired with a standard or non-standard back label.


If you’re interested in an unusual shape for your wine label, it’s important to inquire with your wine label printer to learn if they have the capability to do non-standard printing. Some printers are able to offer these enhanced options, but others are not.


Printing Your Label


Once you have a wine label design you're proud of, you may find that securing a printer is also a challenge. It's important to contract with a company you trust to deliver high-quality labels. You should also look for a printer that helps you through the process, allowing you to make alterations as needed and providing proofs along the way to be sure your label comes out as desired. An in-person design experience is also essential—many winemakers regret uploading their designs online, waiting for delivery from another state, and hoping the labels turn out well. At Vintage 99, for example, we offer a client lounge at our Santa Rosa location so clients can have the full hands-on experience that results in the best quality labels for their business. At our lounge, you will be able to foresee the progress of your wine label project so you can rest assured we’re focusing on quality and efficiency in every step of the way.



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