Dec 4, 2019 | design, illustration, packaging

Illustration design for wine labels and premium package


Illustration: “A picture is worth a thousand words”

Illustration is one of the oldest forms of communication. From the earliest rock paintings to modern digital creations, communication through image has always accompanied man. It is a way of telling stories without the need for words.

It is common misconception to think that illustrations are just drawings. However, illustration is a discipline that covers various techniques and mediums, such as collages, watercolors, prints, and digital or analog painting.

Illustration is not just used in art, but also in the fields of advertising, journalism, marketing and design. A design that includes illustration tends to be a unique piece of work with great storytelling capabilities.  

To truly master this technique, it’s critical to also understand how it functions in the context of branding and its role in visual communication.

Illustration design applied to product branding

The most powerful brands symbolize a promise or commitment to the customer.

It is the job of a brand designer to materialize this promise through illustration, colors, shape, and typography. All of these elements work together to convey the brand’s values ​​and mission at a single glance.

Increasingly, brands spanning all industries are embracing illustration in their communication. Who doesn’t remember the Red Bull TV ads, with animated cartoons gaining their wings and flying off into the sky?

When it comes to wine, the label is the equivalent of a comic strip to a cartoonist, or a TV screen to a commercial animator; it is the space that the illustrator and/or designer has to develop the visual narrative.

Illustration and retro culture

In the last few years, we have experienced a growth of the mid-century inspired retro culture. From the rise in popularity in vintage shops to the reemergence of vinyl records, this trend is visible in lifestyles, fashion, decoration, and also design.

When it comes to design, illustration is one of the most characteristic techniques of retro style.

This was our inspiration for the Mélange à 3 label design project. Our goal was to create whimsical and tongue-in-cheek illustration that depicted the eclectic nature of this wine.

Mélange à 3: Retro Inspired Wine Label Design

Throughout our 10-year collaboration with Quinta dos Carvalhais winery, we have helped develop the visual identity of many of their brands. It was with great joy that we were given the challenge of developing the image for their new, emblematic wine- Mélange à 3.

Mélange à 3 is a symbol of Quinta dos Carvalhais and their history. This project aims to renew and encompass the brand’s portfolio, showcasing the bold and modern wine of the Dão region in the north of Portugal. This wine proves that after more than half a century of accumulated experience and knowledge, the Sogrape wine group (the owner of Quinta dos Carvalhais) continues to bet on innovation.

This new wine was named after the French word Mélange, meaning blend. The number 3 is more than just a play on words; it is a number full of positive symbolism, representing unity and perfection. The 3 also refers the three grape varieties that produce this wine- Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz, and Alfrocheiro.

A blend of retro and modernity

In building the visual narrative of this wine, we wanted to convey a cool, lifestyle image. The graphic concept was inspired by the 50’s and 60’s. We have combined with retro style with modern illustration techniques to give the brand a touch of originality and irreverence. Ultimately, we wanted to create an image that conveys the essence of this wine: an easy and uncomplicated option.

Being a new product, we wanted to give this wine fresh, young feel, but also pay respect and homage to the longstanding tradition of the winery. As such, we kept the Quinta dos Carvalhais logo and capsule as brand identity elements, a reference in the market. The lettering used is the same as that of other Quinta dos Carvalhais wines, such as Duque de Viseu and Grão Vasco.

The 3 characters represent the personification of the grape varieties that make up this wine. The motorcycle was added to further symbolize freedom, youth, and la dolce vita.

The importance of narrative in wine label design

In the creative process of design, the end result is the reflection of the narrative one wishes to convey. In the case of wine, this story must be carefully crafted so that the label can easily share it with the consumer.

Whether you choose to work on an illustration or other visual communication technique, narrative is always the focus. The designer’s work revolves around this story and how to transform it into memorable, visual elements.  

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