MARE ISLAND, CA – How do you replace the flagship wine cellar with 700,000 cases? Very carefully, explains Cynthia Sterling, Creative Director of Affinity Creative Group, who recently led the Oliver Winery and Vineyards brand redesign program based on close collaboration and fine-tuning.

From humble beginnings in 1960 in Bloomington, Indiana, Oliver Winery and Vineyards has grown into one of the largest wine producers in the United States. Their success is based on the philosophy that all styles of wine deserve the highest level of excellence in winemaking, dedication to quality and respect for customer choice. To expand its retail distribution and invite more consumers to discover Oliver’s range of fruity, refreshing and delicious wines, Oliver’s management commissioned Affinity Creative to carefully and sensitively develop the look and feel of its flagship wine line known as the Soft Collection.

Our collection of sweet reds is one of the key drivers of Oliver Winery’s success as one of the best-selling sweet reds in the United States. It’s one of our favorite wines in our portfolio, so we carefully selected a partner to help us redesign the packaging for the collection, says Julie Adams, CEO.

Ms. Sterling describes the creative challenge: Oliver’s sweet wine collection already enjoys great popularity in existing key markets. Given the strength of our existing visual promotions, we focused on developing them to work even more effectively in new retail markets, while maintaining a familiar look and feel that current consumers will recognize.

One of the most important changes is the indication on the labels that they are sweet wines. Sterling continues: A category audit showed that not only is it acceptable to label wines as Sweet Red or Sweet Rose, but that consumers actually prefer and appreciate this simple communication of the flavor profile. It also reinforces Bill Oliver’s belief that wine is an experience that everyone can enjoy and that it makes life a little sweeter. It is therefore logical to include this descriptor on the label. Especially since the Oliver sweet red wine is one of the best-selling sweet wines in the United States.

Affinity’s creative team made many other tweaks and embellishments to the label design, all aimed at improving, modernizing and embellishing existing design elements to make them work better in new markets where consumers may not be familiar with the Oliver Winery and Vineyards brand. A closer look at the label reveals, in retrospect, a new order of information representation, or what designers call a hierarchy of labels. The focus is now on the Oliver brand, with a supporting line that describes this group as a collection of sweet wines.

The designers at Affinity Creative Group simplified and revitalized the existing illustration of the grape to make it look fresh off the vine. In addition, the change in the arrangement of the fruit means that the label at the top is no longer as heavy, so Oliver’s name takes center stage. The new arrangement of the grapes at the bottom right of the label is more unexpected and striking – it catches the eye and visually reinforces the grape variety designation for better legibility. The additional treatment with copper foil gives a shimmering effect that catches the light, serves as a quality signal and increases shelf presence in retail. And by omitting the grooved or hemmed edge of the bottom of the previous version, it gives an impression of freshness, purity and modernity.

According to Adams, the Affinity Creative team managed to strike the right balance between a new look and the need to maintain brand recognition. We are very satisfied with the results of the project. The new packaging has been received enthusiastically by the market. Affinity’s deep transformation works as expected: It attracts new customers while strengthening a positive emotional bond with the brand and a connection with existing loyal customers. Thanks to a larger footprint, expanded distribution and new partnerships with national retailers, Oliver Winery finished 2020 with 40% year-over-year growth. All in all, a pretty good result.

About Oliver Weiner and the vineyards:

Founded in 1972, Oliver Winery continues to innovate in the industry by producing lightly fruity wines, such as the Blueberry Moscato – one of the top 15 Moscato wines in the United States by 2020. Oliver’s continued success in the sweet wine market can also be attributed to his collection of sweet wines, particularly Oliver Sweet Red, which has been the best-selling wine in Indiana for 20 years and is also the best-selling wine in the United States. Due to its accelerated growth, the Indiana vineyard received the Impact HOT Brand Award from Shanken Market Watch and finished the year 2020 ranked as the number 66 Nielsen wine brand in the United States. Oliver is the 29th largest vineyard in the United States (Wine Business Monthly, 2021) and was ranked by Travel + Leisure as one of the top 25 wineries to visit in the United States. Visit oliverwinery.com for more information.

About Affinity Creative Group:

From our unique creative campus (two townhouses and bungalows) located along historic Officer’s Row in Mare Island, California, Affinity Creative Group provides brand design, digital media and activation marketing services to retailers, particularly for wines, spirits and other luxury categories. The industry’s most experienced team of professionals provides strategic, creative and effective solutions that capture attention, generate interest and build customer loyalty in tasting rooms, on-site and in retail locations across the country and around the world. Affinity helps clients of all sizes connect with consumers at key brand touchpoints. This is done through intelligent use of creativity, compelling storytelling and impeccable execution.

For more information about Affinity Creative Group, please visit us: AffinityCreative.com or call 707.562.2787.

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