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Affinity Creative's Sweet Design for Oliver Winery

Posted on February 17, 2021

MARE ISLAND, Calif., -- How do you makeover the flagship label of a 700,000 case winery?  "Very carefully," says Cynthia Sterling, Creative Director at Affinity Creative Group, who recently led a close-in and finely tuned brand redesign program for Oliver Winery and Vineyards. 

Since its modest beginnings in Bloomington, Indiana in 1960, Oliver Winery and Vineyards has grown to become one of the largest wine producers in the U.S. Their success is fueled by a philosophy that all styles of wine deserve the highest degrees of the winemaker's craft, commitment to quality and respect for customer choice. With the goal of expanding retail distribution and inviting more consumers to explore the Oliver range of fruit-forward, refreshing and tasty wines, Oliver leadership engaged Affinity Creative to carefully and delicately evolve the look of its foundational line of wines, known as The Soft Collection.    

"Our Soft Wine Collection Sweet Red is a huge driver for Oliver Winery's success, as one of the top-selling sweet red wines in the U.S. It's been one of the best loved wines in our portfolio, so we were careful in selecting a partner to help us redesign the collection's packaging," said Julie Adams, CEO. 

Ms. Sterling describes the creative challenge: "Oliver's Soft Wine Collection already had a significant following in existing core markets.  Given the strong existing visual equities, we focused on evolving them to work even more effectively in new retail markets, while retaining a familiar look and feel that existing consumers would recognize." 

One of the most significant changes made was to state on the labels that these were sweet wines.  Sterling continues, "Through a category audit, we determined that it was not only okay to identify the wines as 'Sweet Red' or 'Sweet Rose'; the consumer actually preferred and appreciated this straightforward communication of flavor profile."  It also reinforces winery Co-Founder and Board Member, Bill Oliver's belief that wine is an experience everyone can enjoy—it makes life a little sweeter.  So, it made sense to put that descriptor on the label.  Particularly since Oliver Sweet Red Wine is one of the top best selling sweet wines sold in the U.S.     

The Affinity creative team made many other adjustments and embellishments to the label design, all with an eye toward enhancing, upgrading and polishing existing design elements so they work to maximum effectiveness in new markets, where consumers may not be familiar with the Oliver Winery and Vineyards brand. Close inspection of the 'after' label reveals a new order to the information shown, or what designers call the 'label hierarchy.' Now, there is increased attention on the Oliver brandmark along with a supporting line describing this grouping as the Soft Wine Collection. 

Affinity Creative Group designers simplified and enlivened the existing illustration of a grape cluster so it now appears 'fresh off the vine.'  Additionally, by shifting the location of the fruit, the label is no longer 'top-heavy,' allowing the Oliver name to take 'center stage.' The new location of the grape cluster on the lower right hand side of the label is more unexpected and arresting—it stops the eye and visually cradles the varietal descriptor for added legibility. The addition of copper foil treatments adds a glimmer effect that catches the light, serves as a quality cue and increases shelf impact in the retail environment. And the elimination of the torn or deckled edge on the bottom of the previous version help project a fresher, cleaner and more modern impression.

In the words of Ms. Adams, "The Affinity Creative team adeptly balanced a fresh, new look with the need for continued brand recognition. We are so pleased with the results of the project." The revamped packaging design has been enthusiastically received in the marketplace. Affinity's careful makeover works as intended: attracting new consumers while strengthening the brand's positive emotive connection and bond with existing loyalists.  With its enhanced footprint, expanding distribution, and new partnerships with national retailers, Oliver Winery finished 2020 with 40% year-over-year growth.  All in all, a pretty sweet outcome.    

About Oliver Winery and Vineyards: Founded in 1972, Oliver Winery continues to innovate in the industry, with fruit-forward, low-ABV wines, such as its Blueberry Moscato — in the top 15 Moscato wines sold in the U.S. in 2020. Oliver's continued success in the sweet wine market has also been driven by its Soft Wine Collection, specifically Oliver Sweet Red, which has been the #1 selling wine in Indiana and a top-seller in the U.S. for the last 20 years. With its accelerated growth, the Indiana-based winery was named to Shanken's Market Watch "Impact HOT Brand Awards" and ended 2020 as Nielsen's #66-ranked U.S. wine brand. Oliver is the 29th largest winery in the U.S. (Wine Business Monthly, 2021) and was listed by Travel + Leisure among the top 25 wineries to visit in the U.S. Visit oliverwinery.com for more information.

About Affinity Creative Group: From our unique creative campus, (two mansions and a bungalow), along historic officer's row on Mare Island, California, Affinity Creative Group provides brand design, digital media, and retail activation marketing services, particularly for wine, spirits and other luxury categories. The most experienced team in the business, staffed with knowledgeable industry professionals, provide strategic, creative and effective solutions that attract attention, spark interest and win customer loyalty in tasting rooms, on premise and at retail venues across the country and around the globe. Affinity helps clients of all sizes connect with consumers at the early, essential moments of contact, or points of 'brand touch' through the intelligent use of creativity, captivating storytelling, and flawless implementation.


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