Rita Rivotti: The Brand That Creates Brands
Art is a form of communication and communicating wine is, today, an art. Rita Rivotti is already a well-known name in this world, having imagined more brands than one imagines.
“We love what we do,” reads the artistic installation hanging from the ceiling, words distributed by cascading green bottles. In a cozy and well decorated studio with a mezzanine, all wood, sits the dream team of four artistic creators, under the command of Rita Rivotti. These are five people who create and recreate many of the brands we know so well, and others we should know about.
Big or small, countless companies turn to Rita, who has already become a kind of business savior. There are those who call her the Sherlock Holmes of wine, for the field research she does, but I call her Professor X, the source of ideas and manager of her little geniuses, each with their own specialty but all converging towards the same goal: the creation of a name, a label, a concept.
Rita’s path was anything but linear. She studied Agricultural Engineering at UTAD, in Vila Real, and was always involved in agricultural production and in the field.
However, her fascination with the arts was always there, although “at the time, one did not go to the arts, it was very rare, and not even my father considered it as a course”. Her father, the most important figure in her life, was passionate and enthusiastic about the arts and culture. He was also a painter, but he saw it as a hobby.
By the time he finished his course, Rivotti made the most of a subject called Planning, which was financial mathematics. As a result, the teacher invited her to practice with her at BPI, an invitation that she accepted and later joined the CAC (Credit Analysis Center); “It was very interesting, but it was not my passion” she confessed.
After her first daughter was born, she said goodbye to the CAC and decided to be a full-time mother. And so she did for seven years, until the third and final child went to school.
Paul Myhre, who nowadays also does the same type of work, challenged her to start a wine-making business with him. Rita said “I was very fond of wines, especially for my father, who always taught me everything and who, besides being an economist, was a historian and a man who cared about everything, and wine”. She accompanied her father everywhere, including visiting wineries. Her work today reflects all of this, and these memories are a great source of inspiration.
Rita and Paul were the pioneers of a revolution in the image of Portuguese wines, which led to their appearance on the international scene and a spike in export numbers. “International markets did not accept the images that most of our producers had for wines, which were highly outdated,” Paul explained. He went on to earn a master’s degree in marketing and brand management, as well as WSET training. Three years later, Paul moved cities and Rita took over the leadership of a team, now totally renewed.
Rita’s dream team visits clients and does a lot of field work. João Saúde, Sandra Costa, Sara Correia and Pedro Roque are the designers who illustrate the concepts, and are part of the design. Each one adds value to the projects, in their own way, and the skills are divided according to the specialty and the type of image that each one likes the most – one prefers cartoons, another is more minimalist, and one more complex. “There are concepts that call for something more strident, others something more classic,” revealed Sara.
The signature of each team member is present in the pieces, something Rita realizes, because they all communicate through the artistic work they do. “Wine branding and design” is the name they give to the craft because it was with the wine that the business grew. “What we do is premium packaging for various food products, but 90% of it is wine. We now have, for example, a project in the United States of mead, a fermented honey drink, generally flavored with wild berries. It’s surprisingly good” said Rita.
To this day, they have completed thousands of projects, be they creations from scratch, or rebranding. When you look at the shelves with hundreds of bottles in the studio, everything looks easy, but it’s when you pick it up that you realize all the toil within the label. It is complex work and having the right idea is not always immediate. Rita warned, “It’s not all easy, there are projects here that were very difficult to complete. There are few illustrations that are accepted at first, but there are others that walk here and there”.
Our favorite case studies
The multiple award-winning work done for the Lés-a-Lés wine range was very fast. The project for the winemaker Jorge Rosa Santos is based on the recovery of old grapes from some Portuguese regions, “each label being a ticket for the discovery of a forgotten heritage”.
In 2018, the international competition Pentawards gave the Rita Rivotti’s team the Gold Medal in the Wines category for the image of Lés-a-Lés. “It’s the most important packaging contest, and we’ve been the most beautiful wine label in the world. We compete with the largest agencies in the world, which have even bigger budgets than ours. We have not even processed the information well yet” said Rita.
When questioned about the freedom that customers give them in creation, the answer was: “In all projects that have won awards, we have had complete freedom”.
Ravasqueira was a brand where they made a great rebranding: “We took the coat of arms of the label and included the azulão, replacing the gold. Nowadays, you enter a shop or a large commercial establishment and you soon see Ravasqueira“.
Very sui generis is the case of wine Tyto Alba, a case that is very dear to Rivotti’s team. “The Companhia das Lezírias was not a company with a very good image, adding to the fact that it was from the State, which also did not give much jokes”, introduced Rita. “It has about 20 thousand hectares and is one of the few public companies that makes a profit. It was necessary to convey this”. Thus, studying all the causes that the Company supports, Rita encountered one that caught her attention: the owl-towers is in extinction around the world and the Company created the largest community of the planet through the distribution of nest boxes throughout the homestead.
Thus was born the Tyto Alba, Latin name that is given to the species in the Old World. He also wrote on the label “Protected Vineyards” because the company’s biologists explained that this owl feeds on the rodents that spoil the vine. In addition, this owl is indicative of environmental quality because it does not exist in polluted places. How cool is that? I was convinced. And the Pentawards too, having awarded him the Silver Medal in 2015.
Then there is the Vicentino, from the Alentejo Coast. Sunrise, Sunset and Foggy are not names of wines but rather internal references of the labels, alluding to the vineyards of Ole Martin Siem, a Norwegian who has been engaged in growing vegetables for longer than wine. It is also a favorite.
The “Count” couple Sta. Maria stands out for the Mar de Rosas wine, the latest rosé, inspired by the garden of 5,000 roses by the sea, which Baron Bodo von Bruemmer planted in honor of his wife.
Among the many thousands of brands, there are small specialties and other well-known ones, such as Cartuxa, Duorum, Papa Figos, Quinta do Côtto or Trinca Bolotas. “The most important thing is what’s inside the bottle and we have to get a story to tell the origin. This story does not have to be just beautiful, but relevant, unique and true” said Rivotti.
For the team, these are the three premises that must be behind each project. “Relevant because it has to help the consumer to understand the wine. Unique because the market is full of wines and it is important to be always ahead of what already exists, to be different in a universe of similarities. True because we have to find a credible wine language, wine communication cannot come out of that language, and because the story told must have truth. In the case of Crochet, for example, there is not a vineyard, it is the two of them, Sandra Tavares da Silva and Susana Esteban, who like to get together for ‘crochet’. That’s the concept of the brand”.
And so they are making small revolutions across the country, which have a direct impact on sales. Now they are preparing for internationalization and the ambition that Rita Rivotti emanates shows that all this is only the beginning. “We have the know-how and experience to be out there and compete with the big ones. Let’s do this”.
This article is a translation of the interview conducted by the site “Grandes Escolhas”.
The original version can be found here: https://grandesescolhas.com/rita-rivotti-a-marca-que-cria-marcas/