The Balvenie Stories range uses digital experience and storytelling to build brand
Whisky brands have experienced a resurgence of popularity of late, with increased interest around the world and in emerging markets for the spirit, particularly in Asia. However, one of the key elements of the quality whisky brand experience is just that: an experience.
Tasting events and distillery visits are popular, but can only reach small amounts of people. Drinking patterns are also shifting, particularly among younger people, to greater consumption at home, rather than in bars or pubs. For whisky, which relies to an extent on the tasting experience, there is a need to extend that on-trade experience to the home environment.
For the Balvenie, a Speyside malt owned by William Grant & Sons, stories form the basis of a new range of whiskies called the Balvenie Stories. To launch this trio of scotches, the company turned to London-based Here Design, a studio that focuses both on brand and book design, to craft a unique branded experience.
The packaging has been developed with storytelling cues throughout, including an illustrated case with story-like whisky names. ‘The Sweet Toast of American Oak,’ joins ‘A Day of Dark Barley’ and ‘The Week of Peat’ on the proverbial bookshelf. Complementing those titles are three straplines that act as teasers, drawing viewers into the story. On the back of the pack is a long-form story, following through on the promise made by the range. Each whisky also uses an NFC-enabled neck tag that allows consumers to access podcasts and conversations with whisky craftsmen, including a guided tasting experience.
Here Design’s creative partner Mark Paton says, “Our aspiration for the package and book design was to reflect the humanity of the makers at the Balvenie distillery and their story – and to reflect the fact that each whisky was influenced and authored by a team of passionate distillery workers.”
The NFC aspect incorporates a unique experiential element to the packs. Many whisky brands include tasting notes either on pack or on their websites. However, whisky tastings are most engaging when led by the industry’s master craftsmen and distillers. This digital integration allows the Balvenie to bridge the gap between at-home consumption of whisky with the in-person experience of a whisky tasting or of ordering a cocktail in a bar.
Whisky brands have consistently experimented with digital in recent years as a ways of educating consumers and providing a more fully rounded experience. The Balvenie Stories range achieves that as well with its unique links from the bottle, to the pack, to a digital experience customised for it.
The Balvenie global brand ambassador Gemma Paterson says, “Each of the whiskies in the Balvenie Stories range tells a unique tale of character and endeavour. There’s emotion and human nature in everything we do at the Balvenie, and the design captures that in a beautiful and impactful way.”
The bottle and label themselves fit nicely within the existing Balvenie design range, with a consistent bottle shape and a similar tone taken with the typography and illustrations. But, the focus of the new range on experiential elements at home helps it stand out from its brethren.