Meet Allison Patel, the founder of single malt whisky Brenne Estate Cask. After the success of her first award-winning spirit, she fully embraced her entrepreneurial spirit and developed a second statement whisky to go alongside it called ‘Brenne Ten’ (whilst somewhat similar in name to the children’s TV show, we assure you it bares no relation).
With a veritable deluge of choice on offer in the drinks industry, it’s never been more important to create an aesthetic that encourages people to choose your tipple over your rival’s. With that in mind, we spoke with Allison to hear the story of how she created Brenne’s visual identity.
Let’s cut straight to the chaser.
In preparation for the new product launch, Allison went back to the drawing board, this time with a partner in design crime: Johnson and McGreevy, a brand agency based in New York City.
Their collaboration started with a long list of brand related questions, such as how to differentiate the new premium product from its regular sister offering, to how to maintain a cohesive brand story.
For Brenne, the initial blue color choice became “a real signature for us, something that we’re known for,” says Allison. It’s a small detail that plays a big role in the brand’s image, now affectionately referred to by their customers as “Brenne blue,” the palette gives so-called “Brennethusiasts” a sense of place, too.
To differentiate the new whisky, the agency then developed a color swatch called ‘Brenne X’, which needed to visually communicate the richer flavored whisky. By intensifying the signature brand color for their premium offering, fans of Brenne’s first whisky are cued to the differences between the two. “It’s sexier, heavier and darker, with beautiful subtleties – very much like the product,” reinforces Allison.
This thinking was the result of a creative process alongside Nick McGreevy and his team. Allison tells us, “I didn’t say ‘give me a richer blue.’ I said, ‘we’re known for our Brenne blue, and I want to stay on story and somehow translate that here.’”
Making it happen
As a small business owner, Allison recommends working with small agencies if you can immerse them into your brand. She credits the agency’s great eye for detail, when in the midst of her detailed presentations about Brenne, the now signature blue doors of the distillery (that feature on the bottle) were pointed out by a member of the team. “It’s important to carry the brand story throughout the elements of design: the label, the gift box, the shipper,” Says Allison, who discovered the potential to tell a more fleshed out story with her second offering.
To elevate the new product, they also decided to enlarge the label, donning it with silver foiling and scrollwork. McGreevy shared that this “kept equity in the new offering… and made it more premium.” Overall, his approach was to “focus on the consumers and their beliefs around the brand and not lose sight of authenticity and honesty.”
In another moment of slideshow inspiration, McGreevy saw the opportunity to include an emotive and majestic photograph of the distillery’s barley fields on the box, taken by Allison on her iPhone during her recent trip to France. This is another great example of how the design choices were made to create a real sense of place; the sunset connoting a sense of time passing, signaling the decade-aged profile inside.
Don’t forget: you are the brand
With visuals chosen, the next step was how to talk about Brenne Ten. This part caught Allison by surprise, she hadn’t anticipated featuring herself as a part of the story. But along the way, the team realized that customers had already integrated her into the brand. So, instead of writing in third person on the label and the box, it instead featured a personal letter from the founder to whisky lovers.
“As the proprietor of the company, it was a big personal goal of mine to develop the brand and add an aged product – especially while other brands are releasing younger whiskies to meet higher market demand,” says Allison.
If you’re feeling a little thirsty now, rest assured, Brenne Ten is launching this fall. Allison is now triumphantly planning to release a 10-year whisky every fall to come. An A-list design, two whiskies under her belt and more on the way… that’s certainly a cause for celebration. Cheers!
Written by Katie Sherman
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