IN CREATING THE IDENTITY FOR A NEW TEQUILA-BASED MIXED DRINK, A MEXICAN FIRM DECIDED TO KEEP THINGS SOBER.
As someone who unashamedly still picks wine bottles expressly on the basis of their labels, I can attest to the fact that first impressions are important in the overcrowded world of alcoholic beverages. And in general, the prevailing packaging dictum for the category is to do everything possible to make that impression. Stand in front of the massive air-conditioned beer wall at your supermarket to see what I mean--you’ll find screaming type, bold graphics, and colors covering more or less the entire visible spectrum. The designers behind the identity for Tiqo, a new Tequila-based mixed drink, are trying something different to cut through all that clatter: restraint.
The design, executed by the interdisciplinary firm Manifiesto Futura, based in Monterrey, Mexico, is certainly different than most of what you’ll find on those shelves. While the silhouette of the proposed bottle is the same as any other, a handful of small details set it apart. For one, the thing is all black--cool, matte Batman black--from bottom to bottletop. The logo mark is a minimalist collection of simple shapes that spell out Tiqo, and it’s printed directly on the bottle itself.
The logo mark, for example, is a series of simple shapes that spell the beverage’s name. And instead of being applied to a fussy paper wrapper, it’s printed directly on the bottle (Click Image To Enlarge)
The overall result is a thing with a fluid form and a confident character. No paper label to pick at nervously here, no sir--just a classy 5% ABV Tequila-based mixed drink in a bottle you’ll want to put on your bookshelf afterward. Granted, every beer has its own personality--its own look and its own taste--but on the visual side of things, those personalities are overwhelmingly of the alpha variety. In terms of branding, alcoholic products are essentially competing to be the loudest person at the party, the idea being that hopeful imbibers will follow. Tiqo, apparently, is content to be the mysterious, sexy foreigner standing in the corner (he’s probably an architect).
In fact, that’s precisely what the team at Manifiesto was going for with the design. Vicky González, the firm’s president and executive director, says that her designers look at every new beverage as though it were "one super specific person." In branding Bocanegra, a beer marketed toward "strong men," González says that her team in fact designed a bottle specifically targeted at rich people who wanted to feel like hipsters (the bottle bears the label "cerveza artesanal"). Tiqo is a bit more aspirational--it’s designed to embody "the guy or girl we all want to be," González says--or the one we all want to be with. Tiqo’s the "effortlessly cool, effortlessly elegant" person who doesn’t need to shout to turn heads.
Alas, intriguing, understated strangers aren’t quite as abundant in real life as they are in our fantasies, and in much the same way, this beautiful bottle might not be meant for our endlessly regulated world. González was quick to point out that the mock-up seen here is merely her studio’s vision for the brand, and the final look will be subject to the scrutiny of those at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, where the design is currently under review. I’m not getting my hopes up. Trade bureaus are notorious party poopers.
There are reasons that you don’t see loud or radical alcoholic beverage designs, because designs are all subject to the standards of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, where Tiqo is right now (Click Image To Enlarge)
COMMENTARY: According to the most recent figures released by the Consejo Regulador del Tequila (CRT), the tequila industry's governing body, up to and including October, there were 159 new tequila brands launched in 2010. Six hundred brands have turned into 1200 brands in less than five years. The growth of the market has been dramatic compared with other distilled spirits, yet, it’s still relatively small, ranked only 4th in US volume. It has not grown fast enough to accommodate all of the entries into the field. Can the US market sustain this many brands? One industry insider doesn't think so. One key factor responsible for the phenomenal growth in the number of brands is that too many distillers bought into the Yankelovich and similar studies that declared premium and above 100% Agave Tequila brands as the next big thing.
In fact, his outlook for the next two years is so bleak, that Christopher Zarus, an industry consultant, importer, broker and developer of alcoholic beverages, predicts the demise of many of these brands. Zarus is also the CEO of the much lauded TequilaRack, the world's first instructional take home tequila tasting kit. And like global economist, Nouriel Roubini, he is the tequila industry's Dr. Doom. I totally agree with Mr. Zarus assessment of the U.S. tequila market.
Over three years ago, one of my clients started a new tequila brand. The tequila was to be produced in the agave growing district of Mexico where the majority of the agave plant growers an tequila distillers are located. The client was to produce three types of premium tequila's:
- Blanco or “silver” tequila - An ultra-premium, crystal-clear and smooth tequila. The Blanco tequila has a clean, slightly spicy, smoky taste that is prized by connoisseurs as pure agave flavor. Blanco’s fine aroma hints of pepper, citrus, mint and herbs. Blanco’s full-bodied agave flavor makes it the perfect mix for any cocktail.
- Reposado tequila – Reposado tequila is made with the finest estate grown agave plants in the world. The reposado tequila is “rested” for four months in a mix of French and American oak barrels to smooth out the harsh flavor that is found in many reposados. It retains a full agave taste, sweetened with the subtle tones of vanilla and caramel imparted by the oak casks. Reposado has a light, golden color with pink tones, smooth and well-rounded to the palate with a perfect finish. Reposado makes an exceptional premium margarita or you can enjoy its rich taste on the rocks.
- Anejo tequila – Anejo tequila is made with the finest estate grown agave plants in the world. It is then aged in a mix of French and American oak barrels for a minimum of fourteen months, giving it a rich amber color with deep pink tones. Subtle hints of vanilla, maple and almond blend perfectly together with an undeniable agave smoked-peppery aroma. Añejo’s finish is exceptionally smooth due to a double distillation process. For the true tequila experience, it is highly recommended to savor añejo tequila in a snifter.
Courtesy of an article dated February 4, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design