Survey the many competing brands in this category and it’s apparent that innovation is a requirement for entry.
How can a newcomer brand gain attention at a premium price point amid such intense competition? Bravado Imports, Lititz, PA, came up with an inventive approach for its Quay (pronounced ‘key’) Vodka Mediterranean: material innovation. The company examined existing packaging in the category and found ways to alter how materials are used. The results not only give the brand its own personality in the vodka aisle—at $37 a bottle—but also a style and elegance that rival longtime competitors.
The base of the 750-mL glass Quay bottle has an unusually thick wall of 1 inch; the additional weight boosts perceptions of product quality. In a departure from many spirits brands, the brand name and logo are spray-painted directly on front panel of the glass surface, rather than on a label attached to the bottle. Additional copy is screen-printed on the bottle’s side panels. That frees up the front panel to remain “clean,” with a “Quay Mediterranean Blue” gradient ending about one-third of the way down the slim, tapered bottle.
The design glorifies and reflects the cultures and refinement of Europe’s Mediterranean region, explains Joseph Durovey, Bravado executive vice president.
“We have plenty of competitors with many beautiful, fancy bottles trying to grab people’s attention off the shelf. With this kind of high-end product, especially from a new and unknown company like ours, your package really needs to look the part,” Durovey says.
The bottle design came together for two key reasons. First, the spirits marketer knew what it wanted beforehand and was therefore able to identify and reject ordinary design iterations. Second, Bravado opted for real-life color comps of decorated bottles rather than merely viewing designs on a computer screen.
Bravado began by consulting with its France-based bottle manufacturer and decorator, Saverglass (www.saver glass.com), to decide on the bottle shape. They selected a square shape that tapers from a wide base to a slimmer shoulder, to contrast the round bottles that are common in vodka.
Durovey says the goal was for a rich, slightly greenish-blue color to reflect the colors of the Mediterranean Sea. The company sought out Comp24 (www.comp24.com) to conduct color studies with explorations initially evolving from magazine advertisements and other blue-paper examples. Bravado gave Comp24 smaller-size samples of its new bottle to test different color iterations.
This approach is important for getting the colors just right, says Carl Perman, Comp24 senior vice president. “In 2-D on a monitor screen, you would not get a feel for the transparency. Here, the saying ‘What you see is what you get’ is not true,” Perman adds.
Once the color tone was decided, the next step was deciding color coverage on the bottle. Should the color be translucent or opaque? “With vodka, you want to show the purity and the clarity,” Durovey says.
An airbrush artist was brought in, and bottle samples were generated using both color gradients and solid blue colors. The decision was made to use a gradient that leaves the bottom half of the bottle clear. Saverglass applies the colors and label information using a proprietary painting process that includes clear-coat protection. Ingredients information and “romance” copy are printed directly onto each bottle’s side panels.
Before going to market, Bravado conducted a limited survey among consumers with two fully labeled bottle options, and 99% endorsed the package bearing the color gradient, the “wave”-shaped icon on the front panel, and the side-panel placement of product information.
Bravado continues the Mediterranean theme and wave icon on white-coated SBS six-pack cartons.
“It was extremely helpful for our bottle manufacturer to have the Comp24 bottle to copy and get the translucency precisely correct,” Durovey notes. “The other comp gave us a sample we could photograph and work with so we could get started on our own promotional material.”