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Annals of Marketing
Winery Names and Naming Wine Labels
Sunday, 6th April, 2014  - David Farmer

In the late 1970s I imported a collection of wines from the Napa Valley and one of these was Diamond Creek. At the time I thought nothing of the name or label, and apart from knowing it was a cult wine and thus of high repute simply concentrated on the wine quality.

By 1996 I was consulting to a liquor group which from 1992 had been developing a portfolio of house brands. By this stage I was as interested in the naming and design of a wine label as I was with the contents. One of these products was called Diamond Ridge and in the centre of the label was a bright twinkling diamond created by some sort of hologram printing effect.

I enquired about the origin of the name and the point of the twinkling look and it was explained they wished the brand to become as popular as Rosemount with its diamond shaped label design. To me there was a suggestion that some of the look was based on Rosemount.

It is natural to borrow the seemingly successful ideas of others but what appeals to a customer is incredibly complex and thinking that part of the graphic used on a successful brand is the reason for sales is failing to understand how attuned customers are to what they buy.

If only things were as simple as the getting the look of the label right to attract customers. Yet having been at many a round table where management discusses the reasons for sliding sales it is often said to be the look of the label that is at fault and further that a new look will miraculously revive the sales trend. It never does but it can increase the slope of the decline.

The name and look of the label is a good place to start when launching a brand but it will require thousands of other variables to fall in place to make the brand successful.

Still I reflected on the two Diamond names decades and continents apart, created for very different reasons as they illustrate how narrow are the ideas we invent for a suitable name. Narrow in the sense of our focus of what we believe will win favour, rather than what the English language offers.

In April, 2013, the American site, wines and vines.com, wrote an article on this topic and I quote some of their findings, which is turn came from WinesVinesDATA, to illustrate this point:

There are 8000 wineries in North America so naturally many use similar ideas.

The following geographical names were common: Creek-295 users; Ridge-199 users; Valley-154 users; Hill-313 users and Mountain-145 users.

Animals and trees were also common; Oak-114 users; Dog-37 users; Hawk-24 uses and Turtle with only 7 users.

Naturally to complete the name many used: Estate-462 users; Family-354 users; Farm-183 users and House-82 users.

By far the most commonly used name is the family name and this makes sense as it is yours and you own it. Naturally if you wish to use your name others with the same name will also want that right so this is a very difficult area for the law.

If you are a bold visionary and are certain of your success it may be worth starting with something more unusual and focussed than say the family name of Smith or Brown.

It is also worth remembering that families have a habit of parting company and if you are the loser in the re-shuffle you will probably have to forgo the use of the original family brand should you start again.

I suspect that a winery name which is not tangled up with the family name will be seen by a potential purchaser as simpler and cleaner and thus of higher value. I have also observed family brand names seem to travel with baggage and the team members of the purchasing company may to set out to destroy the brand thus settling old scores and not build the acquisition.

I have always thought that one of the many excellent achievements of the Oatley family was to call their new winery Rosemount and not use the family name. As the board room turmoil engulfed Southcorp in the early 2000s the Oatleys were able to let go and take the money.

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