Why Replica Wine’s Design Will Make You Do a Double-Take
by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/17/2021 | 4 Minute Read
At some point, people move on from the bargain wines like Two Buck Chuck to something more refined and, inevitably, a little more expensive. The difference between a $2 bottle and even something in the $10 range might be noticeable, but at a certain point, more expensive doesn’t necessarily equate to better. Unless you’re a certified sommelier or a serious wine snob, you may not be able to tell the difference between a $20 bottle and a $50 bottle. And with Replica Wine, you don’t even have to.
Replica Wine analyzes the unique chemistry of some of your favorite wines and then blends a version that, well, replicates it. The consumer gets to enjoy the fine wine they love at a discounted price.
The wine brand recently tasked Colorado agency Moxie Sozo with redesigning the labels. The previous packaging featured the wine’s name running vertically up the front label in a large sans serif font along with some critical information about the wine, but it certainly wasn’t a standout. Replica Wine wanted an evolution of their packaging—but they weren’t exactly sure what they wanted or how far they were interested in taking it.
It required a few iterations to push Replica Wine out of their comfort zone. The brand had already gotten some recognition, so they were wary of a rebrand that might hinder their success. But the team at Moxie Sozo remained convinced that the brand could be much more engaging and enticing on the shelf. During one of the rounds where they explored options, Moxie Sozo presented a concept that caught their interest.
“We believe it's easier to reign back creativity than it is to push it out, so we showed them one design concept with this crazy Siamese swan on it,” said Derek Springston, chief creative officer and partner at Moxie Sozo. “They were freaked out by it. But also incredibly intrigued. So that helped us open the door to explore a bolder look than what the client had originally envisioned.’”
They began brainstorming options for visual elements that would emphasize the “replica” quality of Replica Wine—things like MC Escher-inspired designs or repetitious illustrations wrapped around the bottle entirely. The Moxie Sozo team also explored other animals that might fit well with the brand, such as wildlife that relies on mimicry as a means to copy or replicate other animals or their surroundings.”
“The most important thing is we were trying to emphasize the beauty of nature and symmetry,” said Qian Liu, senior designer and illustrator at Moxie Sozo. “At first glance, people think it’s a beautiful butterfly, but then they pause and wonder if they see a face, and they’re second-guessing. We were trying to give it a sense of cleverness.”
Aside from incorporating the idea of imitation, Replica Wine wanted to push the envelope and get people to rethink what constitutes good wine. When the United States started producing wines that could compete with other imported options in the 1970s and beyond, people’s mindsets shifted. Perhaps hardcore wine aficionados will always demand their vino come with an image of rolling vineyards or a rustic winery on the label. But wine drinkers today are down for a little experimentation.
“The majority of today's wine drinkers are flavor and experience explorers,” noted Evan Faber, CEO and chief strategist at Moxie Sozo. “They want to try new grapes, and they want to have fun with it. It's not some stodgy thing. So we create brands that have evolved along with the wine industry to capture—and keep capturing—a fresh audience to bring them into the fold.”
With that in mind, Moxie Sozo still wanted to include some premium design cues on the label. The metallic elements on the bottles are not only instantly eye-catching, but they elevate the brand. Qian worked in layers to the butterfly—fine details that reflect the brand's precision in producing their wines. The team also looked at countless images of real butterflies and were inspired by the wide range of colors they saw, so they chose sophisticated hues to bring the label to life.
Replica is simultaneously that new wine you’re intrigued to try and the bottle you know and love. They achieved this through research in a lab, but the brand wanted to portray itself as a wine first, not a tech product. This knowledge helped Moxie Sozo navigate the finer details of the design, always prioritizing the rules and language of the category—because, at the end of the day, it’s a delicious bottle of wine.
“It was about solving the goal of making an appealing wine that felt authentic, even though it is a new way to approach the category,” Derek said. “They can have a website, and they can have an Instagram that explains why they're different, but having that initial attraction at the shelf was more important than telling everybody that this was made scientifically.”