the new stormhoek labels


I’ve started designing the new Stormhoek wine labels, which like I said earlier, should be hitting the shelves by Christmas. This is one of my first efforts, an updated version of a cartoon I drew back in 1998.

To me, wine and the human condition go together like two peas in a pod. So I want the designs to explore that relationship.

Could you imagine something like this on a wine bottle? More specifically, a wine bottle you’d actually take off the supermarket shelf and place into your shopping basket? Yes? No? Maybe?

N.B. This project is still very new. Virgin territory. In terms of label design, I don’t claim to have all the answers. Heck, I don’t even claim to have a tenth of them. But this is one steep learning curve that I am thrilled to be on. Watch this space.

[UPDATE: To see the new lable designs as they’re being rolled out, go here. Thanks.]

[NB. This entry was originally posted on my personal blog, gapingvoid.]

9 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Jason

    As a fan of wine, but not much of a connoisseur, I am sorry to admit that labels do have a large influence on my buying decisions. I really like an amusing name, or a particular look, and a bottle with a story behind it is even better.

    Many of my friends are not blog followers, and having something like this to introduce your blog to them is an added bonus.

    I look forward to my first opportunity to bring a bottle of Stormhoek with me to a dinner party with friends (who are already fans of South African wine).

  2. Yes, I can absolutely imagine that on a bottle of wine I would select. I have a number of friends in the wine bar industry (most have establishments that are both store and bar) and here’s what I’ve noticed from my perch on the bar stool –

    It strikes me that the wine market is headed in two opposing directions – an increasing number of experts who want to intimately understand the grape, the winemaker, the process AND an increasing number of casual drinkers who simply want to enjoy a glass that, well, tastes good.

    My POV is that these casual drinkers increasingly need permission to just enjoy wine. With all the expert chatter out there, it’s difficult not to feel intimidated.

    A wine that has a sense of humor about itself. And recognizes the sense of humor in the consumer … well, seems ripe.

  3. I love Hugh’s cartoons. But I am not sure if they are right for a label. I understand the link to the human condition. But if I picture myself looking at this on the shelf then I think comedy picture = comedy wine.

    I think I’d prefer to see these on the back of the label – like a kind of hidden treat that you can only see once you’ve drunk half the bottle. Mix them up randomly and you’ve got a kind of quest to find the new one.

  4. Arkay

    Are you serious about the new labels>

  5. I like the cartoon style concept, but I’m not sure about this particular idea. Most people do not want to be reminded of the fact that they have not the slightest clue where there life is heading. So they are in a supermarket, which is probably quite crowded and they know they are going to have to wait in line for paying and then there is that stupid bottle that reminds them of not having the slightest clue what they are doing. And they have to get to that appointment in time (the bottle of wine is a gift?) and so now someone is pointing out to them that they don’t understand there life and probably that appointment is going to end miserably and… =d

    The humor is great, go for it. But beware for existential humor on bottles of wine a lot of people use to escape from ‘thereselves’. As you stated in the other cartoon, most people don’t buy wine because of the taste, but because it’s ‘chique’, it helps them to loosen up a bit, they need a neutral gift, etc. I don’t think they want to be reminded of that fact. =d

    A very positive thing about the labels is that, indeed the people who do not know much about wine can definitely can buy yours. If they give it to someone, who cares if they bought an excellent wine or not, the label is funny. =d

    Excuse me for possible spelling and grammar mistakes,

    someone why buys ‘decent to good’ wines, but only as they have nice labels

  6. Leigh has a really good point and one that we think about a lot. There are a relatively small group of people who are passionate and knowledgeable about wine and they tend to enjoy the minutiae of production, grape growing and how it is made, what score it got, etc.

    For everyone else, probably 95+% of the people who like wine, they just want to have some fun, maybe have a little interaction with the wine, and enjoy their dinner, friends, book, or whatever.

    We do produce tiny quantities of wines for the geeks- made from grapes grown on our 40+ year old head pruned vines, barrel fermented and really, hot shit.

    But for most people, we believe that they neither care as much as we do about the details of how the wine is made, nor do they want to spend the money it takes to buy one of the ‘reserve’ bottles. For them, we think we should provide a little fun, like the fortune cookie at the end of a chinese meal.

    The labels will polarize, we need everyone’s help in order to pick the right ones, but we think that it will provide something a bit more fun to talk about than brix and fermentation temperatures.

  7. Hugh MacLeod

    I concur with Jason…

  8. the wine geeks can ultimately influence the casual drinker – but you can split the label so that the winery brand has different impact so as not to either compromise either group or create any conflict.

    In the whisky biz. chivas have done this with their casual brand (chivas) and their geek single malt brand of special edition house malts here

    our brand label guys pointed out that this simple label was in fact very carefully considered in how it made use of Chivas in three places.

  9. abostongirl

    I think it’s a brillant idea! I think you will venture into an entirely new market segment. How many non-wine drinkers have had to pick up a bottle or two for a party and have no idea what kind is best. So not only will they be picking a good wine unknowingly, they will also be bringing a conversation piece.


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