Pack of the Month: Denomination Does Anything But Tread Softly (Even For Gin Brand Tread Softly)
by Bill McCool on 11/30/2021 | 5 Minute Read
It’s not easy to extend your wine brand into the world of spirits, but if you’re Tread Softly, you almost make it look too easy.
Back in 2019, Australian wine producer Fourth Wave launched a line of bottled and canned wines as Tread Softly. Fast forward to 2021, and the brand tapped the agency Denomination to once again help them build their packaging and visual identity for a gin they were looking to release. Wanting to make a strong connection with their parent brand, the agency used much of the same look derived from the initial wines released a few years back, but we’d argue that the clear bottle serves as a better vessel for the Robert Thornton painting that elegantly drapes the brand’s offerings. And no disrespect to the wines that came before but seeing the illustration on the other side of a clear gin bottle induced multiple “oohs and ahhs” from us (and, well, our readers, as it was clearly our 2021 November Pack of the Month).
We spoke with Denomination CEO and co-founder Rowena Curlewis about designing the brand extension for Tread Softly and all of the sustainable attributes they’ve built into the new gin brand.
Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.
Tread Softly is a brand that we originally designed as a table wine in 2019. The success of this brand has enabled us to extend the brand into sparkling wine, spritz RTDs and now spirits. So the design process for the gins began with taking the table wine core brand, and thinking about how to credibly extend the brand into the spirits category. Competitive set analysis was also done to ensure that we had a clear space. We also spent a long time analysing the sustainable features of various bottles, substrates and closures before determining the best combination that would be in line with the brand’s positioning and environmental commitment. So once we’d decided on the best materials to use, it was a matter of working out how to design the pack differently to the table wines in order to align with spirits category cues, yet also connect closely to the parent brand. The final solution was presented to the client, and with no changes (dream client), we went straight to prototype trials. After numerous trials to get the illustration colours and distortion of the graphics correct when combined with the liquid and bottle colours, we went into final production.
Who did the illustration for the bottle?
The ladybird illustration which forms part of the brand logo was done by woodcut artist Mark Wilkinson. The oil painting of flora and fauna is by artist Robert Thornton, painted in 1807.
But seriously, how much were you listening to New Order's Power, Corruption, and Lies while making this? Was the record just hanging out in the studio? I mean this in the best way possible—feels like a good homage!
Ha! A good analogy, but in reality no it wasn’t. The idea originally came when our global creative director, Margaret Nolan, was thinking about a way to communicate the light and delicate nature of the wines in a way that was sophisticated and unexpected. Searching for an image that would allow her to communicate this, she found the glorious image by Thornton which was a perfect solution.
What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Tread Softly packaging, and how did you accomplish it?
Our client briefed us to create a “next generation brand for the next generation drinker”. This younger generation is environmentally aware; seeking brands that make a difference, and that align to their value system. We called the brand Tread Softly to reflect the brand’s awareness of its environmental footprint and to communicate the lighter, more delicate drink style. Every part of the packaging has been thought through from an environmental perspective. We used Estal’s 100% recycled Wildglass for the bottle, a product that differs slightly for every production run, depending on the glass input. The back label uses a new product from UPM Raflatac – Forest Film. This clear stock is made not from plastic, but instead from 100% renewable wood-based raw materials in an ISCC certified value chain. The front label is made from a naturally flecked paperstock that has a proportion of recycled stock. Instead of using a plastic capsule to secure the stopper, we used a paper security seal instead. And with each case of gin sold, the brand plants a tree. There are now 500,000 trees planted that form the Tread Softly forest.
How did you land on the wood stopper with the paper security seal?
We wanted to avoid the need for a plastic capsule so we looked for materials that were sustainably produced with a lower carbon footprint than their alternatives. So we landed on wooden stopper and paper security seal that would ensure product safety but without the use of plastic.
What was the most challenging part of this project?
This was a difficult project to complete during a global pandemic with challenges with transport slowing down every prototype stages, and shipping challenges that everyone else faced meant the launch had to be delayed.
If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?
Just one? I love the way that the Thornton painting has been used in a new and dynamic way—following the lead of the wine range, but with a different interpretation.
Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.
When we became aware of the changing glass colours, we had to ask the client to revisit the product colour of the Pink Gin to ensure that the colour of the liquid would still look appetising with a bluer or greener toned glass.