These days anyone can design, so expert craftsmanship is essential to rise above the ordinary.
Design used to be a
specialist skill, reserved for trained practitioners. But the digital
revolution has given everyone the tools to create designs of their own. This
may not have led to better design, but it has certainly led to more design. This proliferation has made
the quality of design all the more
important. To stand out from the
crowd, brands must invest in everything they create to make them exceptional.
Brands that pay intense attention to the little details prove to the world that
they really care about what they’re doing.
The Glenlivet is the oldest, legally distilled and second
best-selling single malt whisky in the world. It is made in Speyside in Northwest
Scotland, an area famed for its rugged countryside, pure water and smooth, delightfully
complex-tasting whiskies. The Glenlivet distillery produces over six million
bottles a year.
Despite being steeped in history and tradition, the single
malt whisky category is not immune to change. A whisky brand, like any other, must
evolve to keep pace with changing culture and tastes, and to fend off growing
competition. The Glenlivet is rightly proud of its 200-year heritage, but it must
never look out-of-date or old-fashioned. It takes a light touch to steer a design
legacy into the future.
So where to start when evolving it? The answer lies in defining
the unmistakable core of the brand, and then ensuring that every element of the
visual identity celebrates that simple idea. It involves rummaging through
dusty archives, experiencing all aspects of production, and tasting the subtle
differences that make the whiskies unique. (Someone’s got to do it!)
We discovered that Glenlivet is a Gaelic word meaning
‘smooth-flowing one’. The name is derived from the water that flows by the
distillery over smooth granite rocks. So for the first time in its history, we
included that translation on the packaging and embedded the idea in the design.
Simple flowing lines appear as a watermark on the labels and the ‘smooth and
flowing’ idea inspires marketing materials.
Much of the appeal of a single malt is in knowing that it
has been lovingly crafted by a master distiller. It’s therefore particularly
important that the packaging looks lovingly crafted too. Every detail counts. The
design for the classic range of aged whiskies is refined and iconic. A clear
visual system communicates the age of each whisky, while subtle changes to the
bottle structure give it a prouder, more confident profile. Fanatical attention
to every detail means each bottle exudes a feeling of quality and
For new products and special editions, we gave the brand a
more contemporary edge. Nadurra, Gaelic
for natural, is a new range of whiskies with a raw, natural taste. Bottled in
small batches from casks ‘as they come out’, the whiskies vary in strength, and
are produced without the traditional chill filtering—so we gave the range a more contemporary,
Special Editions like the wood-encased ‘Founders Reserve’ are
elevated through unique designs that celebrate the brand’s heritage in a
relevant, contemporary way. Only 1824 bottles of this special liquid were
produced to celebrate the successful growth of the brand. One bottle was
presented to Prince Charles when he opened the first addition to the distillery
in 40 years—royal recognition for the spirit of craftsmanship at the heart
of the brand.