Oct 11, 2021

What makes iconic spirit bottles stand out?

Whether it's Frangelico's tales of hermit monks or Jack Daniels' stories of illegal moonshining, every spirit has a defining origin myth. And, there's no better way for the brand owners to express these stories than through the tactile, interactive medium of packaging. Tasked with conceptualising and delivering standout products in this field, design agencies have to be able to master two disciplines, each with their own challenges: creating new designs and updating existing ones. I spoke with Billy Bridgeworth, Creative Director at Here Design, about the recipe for success.
Fin Slater

Please could you tell us a bit about your role and responsibilities at Here Design?

I am the creative director of Here Design, so I oversee all the design part of our projects, nurture and inspire the team and am responsible for ensuring the creative excellence of everything that leaves the studio.

Here Design seems to have a rich history of designing spirits bottles – which projects of yours might our readers be familiar with and can you talk us through some of these?

The global redesign of Bacardi was a real highlight and showcases our approach: returning Bacardi to its rightful status as an icon of rum and preparing it for a new range of premium rums. It was an excellent example of all our company’s skills working together: with our new portfolio strategy, our writers, designer and makers. The redesigns for Glenfiddich and Grants were also significant, and we have worked on Hendricks for ages and love ensuring its curious brand world stays exciting. Our brand world (and writing) for Monkey Shoulder has also been shaking up the category for a while now.

A lot of packaging design for beverages – beer bottles, wine bottles and water PET bottles, for example – follows the same format. There’s clearly more differentiation in spirit bottle design. Is there a specific reason for this and what is the importance of an aesthetically beautiful medium for spirits?

Spirits are the most authentic product to design for because they usually have a liquid story that is true because they really do come from somewhere. If you compare them to FMCG design, which is all about building unique associations with relatively generic product attributes, it’s refreshing to have something actually different to start from. Spirits have deeper stories so, from a design point of view, it’s a more involved process.

Please could you talk us through the process of designing a spirit bottle, from start to finish?

The first step is immersion. We listen to what the client team wants, the problems they identify, the market differences, and develop an understanding of the target consumer.

Then we challenge the assumptions of the category. What do people think they know about this category and what is the underlying narrative that brands contribute to? This lets us know how we can disrupt it.

We’re always thinking about the single-minded brand directive that design needs to bring to life, i.e. how we should behave in design and comms.

Then we’re at the free-fall stage, which is a chance to explore without restrictions and develop a range of concepts that fulfil the brief. We choose one, then we develop it. After this, we capitalise on the idea in wider comms and brand world – importantly ensuring that everyone in the organisation is on the same page.

Finally, a Coronavirus question – how is it affecting Here Design and the design industry at large, and what is Here Design doing to combat it?

We’re working from home – its OK, we’ve got the tech working. We’re now focused on going beyond “it’s working” to ensuring the exponential growth of our creative potential. As my dad always says: “another bluddy learning experience!” We’ll get there…

Fin Slater

Writer and editor with a professional background in the creative space
Comment Box is loading comments...