Rebranding a cellar.

Baku Creativitat
Sep 25, 2019 · 5 min read

The story behind Varietal 500's new look

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If we leave Barcelona and go by car to the south, inland, just 50 kilometers away, we’ll find El Penedès. This PDO — Protected Denomination of Origin — is a privileged territory for the elaboration of wine and the cradle of some of the most innovative wineries in the world. Wine is the way of life in this territory, since immemorial times, and this is something felt in the most daily conversations of people in bars, markets and places.

Bodegas Torres, Pinord, Jean León or — to also speak of cava producers— Freixenet and Codorniu, are just some of the names. But beyond the biggest players, there are also smaller producers in El Penedès producing wines of exceptional quality, able to find their place in the international market.

The story of Varietal 500 is that of one of those craftsmen who, doing the work well and with perseverance, all of a sudden get praised in the Parker guide and wonder what their wines need to be marketed both in Catalonia and around the world.


The cellar

Varietal 500 ecological vines are located in the highest part of El Penedès —between 500 and 700 meters above sea level—.

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This fact grants them an eminently Mediterranean climate that, at the same time, alternates with a high heat contrast between day and night, giving the grapes a slow maturation and transferring to the wines the maximum aromatic expression of the fruit.


Why did Varietal 500 decide to re-brand?

When we started working on the project, the three wine references included in their proposal already existed:

  1. A wine of Garnacha Negra and Merlot
  2. A 100% Sauvignon Blanc wine
  3. And a Classic Penedès made with Garnacha Blanca from old vines

All of them wines of exceptional quality, which had nevertheless started to be marketed on a small scale and without too much success.

Here is one of those cases in which all the resources are used to create a good product (the wine), without considering what kind of brand work and distribution strategy will be necessary to successfully place it in the market.

The assistance of Varietal 500 producers at the ProWine fair in Düsseldorf (Germany) opened their eyes to the need to elevate the perception of their product, to adapt their image to their pricing, and to compete for a good visibility.

Also, the good reviews of two sommeliers of international renown, such as Robert Parker and Josep Roca, played an important role in encouraging producers to develop a visual identity work with a strategic will, which represents the highest values ​​of the product.


Designing the brand

If there is something that makes Varietal 500 wines unique, it is, above any other characteristic, the uniqueness of the territory where the vines grow and the thermal contrast taking place between day and night. That is why from the beginning, the idea was to give maximum importance to the territory.

The concept that encourages all branding work is that of the wine as an expression of the territory.

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Varietal 500 mark. Peaks, valleys and temperature expressed through a single line

Somehow, the initial sketches already moved around this same idea, finally generating a mark that is expressed through a linear graphic, which flows infinitely representing the peaks and valleys of the territory where the vines are grown. Light and space contribute to a formal simplicity, and occasional but powerful color interventions create a clear, fresh and dynamic identity.


Naming and storytelling

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Once the brand was established and before starting the design process of the labels, we worked to name each of the three references that make up the collection.

We go back to the unique characteristics of the wine: the importance of the territory and its characteristics — the height where the vines are grown, and the contrast of temperatures — to find names that evoke all of this, joining elements and delivering concepts with a strong poetic and evocative connotation.

Thus, the final names for the three references were born:

  1. For the red wine: “Cau del Roig”, to unite “Cau” (den) and “Roig” from “Pit-roig” (a robin).
  2. For the white wine: “Sot del cel”, to unite “Sot” (a hole in the ground) and “Cel” (sky).
  3. And for the sparkling (Classic Penedès): “Niu d’estel”, to unite “Niu” (nest) and “Estel” (star).

Label design

Ximo Abadía, an illustrator from Alicante (Spain), worked from the naming, creating for each reference an evocative illustration, which plays with the idea of the union —strange and poetic— between an anonymous protagonist and several impossible elements that give rise to something singular and that reflect the very nature of the product: full of abstract and inspirational nuances of a dreamy nature.

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One of the illustrations created by Ximo Abadía and art-directed at Baku

Typography displayed in small blocks of condensed characters, indicates the name of each wine and the varieties used in its elaboration, in a straightforward way. Without artifice or ornaments.

The production of the labels was made with a Fedrigoni/Manter waterproof ivory paper, slightly textured, which provides a warm final result and an interesting touch.

Texture of the Fedrigoni Manter paper
Photo shoot ‘behind the scenes’

The results

We create a collection of graphically unified labels, with a totally differentiating proposal, fleeing conventions within their market. We use elegant and simple typography in combination with evocative and dreamy illustrations that move away from the most literal definitions.

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Varietal 500 is a practically archetypal project, in which the value of a good brand, a good design and a good strategy can help to make the virtues of a product patent — sometimes unconsciously disregarded — and make it prevail.

More info: Varietal 500 case (Baku.cat)

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