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6. Creating, Describing and Defining your Premium Wine Brand

A Great Wine Brand Communicates to Wine Drinkers in Ways that are Important to Them

Wine drinkers brand decisions based on superficial criteria as well as the smell and taste of premium wine. Wine marketers appeal to this superficial criteria through brand management. Specifically they define a brand and keep referring to it throughout the wine marketing process.

Remember this?

Four key truths about why people buy wine helps to explain why brands are so important:

1. Wine drinkers never understand a premium wine as well as the company that sells it. Their relationship is not through months of hard and loving graft but rather fleeting and superficial.

2. Wine drinkers perceive premium wine brands in their own terms. Given they have imperfect knowledge of the wine they have to select something relevant to them – perhaps by label design rather than taste.

3. Wine drinkers’ perceptions will focus on benefits that are often intangible – this can seem irrational to wine growers. This is because consumers focus on what a wine can do for them rather than what it actually is. The benefits to them are intangible but are still real in their minds.

4. Wine drinkers’ perceptions are not at the conscious level. When we ask people why they purchased a wine we may get a rational answer but not the whole story. Feelings about wine are not always easily articulated because they are complex and emotional.

We’ve also looked at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the way marketers have evolved that into descriptions of customers in another web page.

Maslows Triangle

The basic idea has evolved into a way to also look at brands and how customers relate to them. The diagram below illustrates this relationship. Customers want certain things from the product itself – taste and smell characteristics. They also want the brand to make them feel and be seen in certain ways that are important to them – intangible, irrational benefits but very human.

Customers Relate to Brands on Different Levels

A Wine Brand in relation to a Wine Consumer Segment

We are in effect defining what your brand looks like in a customer’s mind. When we define your ideal brand much of it will simply reflect or “mirror” your target customer.

The diagram below illustrates this.

wine brand meets wine consumer

Your definition will also include product elements and describe how it’s different from competitors.

Your brand definition will cover the following:

Brand Triangle

So let’s look at an example. Let’s say you chose Inspiring Businessman as your niche. The following triangle described this customer group and occasion in the Customer Insight section.

Wine Segment: Inspiring Businessman

Defining your Wine Brand

The following brand definition process is not one I’ve made up – I wish I was that smart!

It’s one that is used in different forms for the world’s most well known brands and that I’ve picked up working in various international marketing teams. I simplify a lot of the process below but it requires some hard in-depth thinking on your part.

Once you’ve done this though you’ve got a tool that helps unlock sales from consumers all round the world. Why? Because you’re communicating to them in ways that are important to them.Your consumer wants to feel and be seen in certain important ways. You want your brand to help make them feel and be seen in these ways. These form what your brand stands for and are called Brand Core Values.

There are other words that could also be used to describe variants of this niche (listed in the table below). But for the purposes of simplicity let’s stick with the words in the triangle above.

In particular you decide two key words for your target market are (be seen as) Successful and (feel) Sophisticated. You want your brand to signal these to your target consumer.

Successful and Sophisticated become two of the four core values your brand stands for.

In the premium wine category customers demand High Quality. This is pretty consistent whatever of the 3 segments you choose and is the rational core value.

The last one differentiates your brand from your competitors’. This is an important step so

  • Go back to the Wine Industry Competitor section’s market model and look to see where you positioned your competitors
  • Review the stories you have to tell from your Company Wine Business section

In the Choose your Niche section you decided on where to position your brand including the target customer group.

Look at the relevant list of possible core value words by your chosen customer group (these words also describe the segments themselves and resonate with them):

Inspiring Businessman Core Value Words and Descriptors Knowledgeable Professor Core Value Words and Descriptors Creative Individualists Core Value Words and Descriptors
  • Ambitious
  • Assertive
  • Attractive To Opposite Sex
  • Boutique
  • Brand Leader
  • Brash
  • Capable
  • Commanding
  • Competence
  • Confident
  • Contemporary
  • Cool
  • Crafted
  • Determined
  • Different
  • Discerning
  • Dominance
  • Expensive
  • Experts
  • High Quality
  • Holding Court
  • Important
  • Impressing
  • Impressive
  • In Charge
  • Independent
  • Individual
  • Intelligent
  • Interesting
  • International
  • Knowledgeable
  • Leadership
  • Natural
  • Naturally Stylish
  • Organised
  • Personalized
  • Popular
  • Potency
  • Potent
  • Powerful
  • Premium
  • Premium Quality
  • Professional
  • Responsive
  • Self Assured
  • Smart
  • Sophisticated
  • Status
  • Stimulating
  • Strong
  • Presence
  • Stylish
  • Subtle
  • Success
  • Successful
  • The Best
  • Uncompromising
  • Understated
  • Wealth
  • Witty
  • World Class
  • Worldly
  • Advanced
  • Boutique
  • Capable
  • Clever
  • Comfortable
  • Confident
  • Conservative
  • Considered
  • Contented
  • Control
  • Crafted
  • Craftsman
  • Different
  • Discerning
  • Discernment
  • Down To Earth
  • Effective
  • Efficient
  • Environment
  • Focused
  • Formal
  • Genuine
  • High Quality
  • In Control
  • Independent
  • Individual
  • Interesting
  • International
  • Knowledgeable
  • Made By Craftsman
  • Mastery
  • Mature
  • On Top Of Things
  • One Step Ahead
  • Organized
  • Professional
  • Refined
  • Refreshing
  • Relaxed
  • Savvy
  • Simple No Nonsense
  • Smart
  • Smart Value
  • Sophisticated
  • Structured
  • Technical
  • Understated
  • Adventures
  • Adventurous
  • Alternative
  • Ambitious
  • Attractive To Opposite Sex
  • Authentic
  • Bold
  • Boutique
  • Challenging
  • Charming
  • Confident
  • Contemporary
  • Cutting Edge
  • Daring
  • Different
  • Different And Interesting
  • Distinctive
  • Doing Things Differently
  • Doing Things My Way
  • Dynamic
  • Dynamism
  • Energetic
  • Energy
  • Exciting
  • Exploration
  • Fashionable
  • Free Thinking
  • Freedom
  • Fun Loving
  • High Quality
  • Impressive
  • Independent
  • Individualist
  • Individualistic
  • Innovative
  • Intelligent
  • Interesting
  • Knowledgeable
  • Latest
  • Leading Edge
  • Live Life On The Edge
  • Modern
  • Party Lovers
  • Proactive
  • Quality
  • Risk Taker
  • Spontaneous
  • Stimulating
  • Stimulation
  • Street Smart
  • Stylish
  • Superior Quality
  • Trendy
  • Try New Things
  • Unique
  • Witty
  • World Class
  • Youthful

What word could you “own” that separates you from other wine brands and resonates with consumers?

This requires some hard analysis and thinking but brand management isn’t all long lunches and designing graphics.

Let’s say you decided Contemporary was a key point of difference. This might be because your company owner has great taste in the latest that the design world can offer – furniture, architecture, cars, watches, mobile phones, artwork, and clothes.

You also have access to a leading edge graphic designer and so can see how you could stand out from the crowd and appeal to this group of customers through this brand core value.

So, for example, your Australian competitors have a bright Kangeroo label, your French competitors a bland black and white label and simple bottle, and your US competitors a flashy but 90s looking label (no insult attended to my international readers 🙂 ).

You would have a very stylish bottle with cutting edge graphics that remind people of an Armani suit, a Ferrari car or a Tag Heur watch. This would also flow through into point of sale, websites, cellar door, how you present yourself at wine shows etc – more of the marketing execution later. The point is not the actual ideas on bringing “Contemporary” to life but illustrating why this differentiating core value is so important.

Brand Essence

Coming up with the values got you thinking about your consumer and competitor. If you were to come up with a phrase that described the basic need that the brand is addressing – its Essence – what would it be?

The classic examples are from other industries are Volvo with “Safety”, and Marlboro with “Strength and Independence”.

The Brand Essence is a short easy to remember descriptor of the brand. In this illustrative case it might be Contemporary Premium Quality.

Regardless of the idea the point is that this is your brand short hand or a description of your brand’s DNA.

Brand Proposition

Which brings me to the most well known part of a brand – its proposition, USP or promise. The brand proposition is how your brand benefits the consumer.

Let’s go back to the Customer Insight at the top of the description of Inspiring Businessperson:

Wine Segment Inspiring Businessman Insight

Your brand’s proposition to these customer may be

“Brand X brings out your contemporary style and sophistication.”

Wine Consumer and Wine Brand intersection

Personality and Product

Bring your brand to life by describing the brand as if it was a person, known as the brand personality. Look for words that also describe your customer group (see core value words) as well as clothes, cars, popular brands for these customers etc. This will help bring more depth to explaining and understanding your brand.

Last but not least add in the product elements – your ideal tasting notes, substantiation of quality such as top awards, visual identifiers such as logo, label and bottle, and region/nationality.

Example Brand Triangle

Once you put them into the Brand Triangle you have defined your brand and can ensure you communicate to those seemingly superficial but actually very important criteria wine drinkers use to choose a wine brand.

Using this process and the descriptions (including core value words above) you will find a niche that

  • is important to customers
  • is different from your competitors
  • appeals to your company

Frankly this is the hard yards of brand management

I hope I have provided you with a window into professional brand management rather than a headache.

In other pages in this blog category you will look at how to reposition your brand – that is change the perception of the brand to be closer to its ideal image as outlined in the brand definition. By having a brand statement agreed by your key people you will have internal consensus around marketing, a commitment to take the necessary steps, and inspiration to carry it through.

Whereas before your brand management may have been a little aimless, now it will have a clear sense of direction. You will be able to sit down with distributors and trade customers and describe what sort of people you’re targeting.

Your DM, website, events, distribution strategy, and pricing will fall into place much more smoothly and help you increase your prices, margins and/or boost your volume.

Next The Marketing Mix >>>

<<< From Creating Your Brand to Wine Marketing Success


  1. Si Muddell says:

    Great post Bruce – thanks for writing, and sharing.


  1. […] and discuss further with your staff. It’s a big decision so it’s worth the trouble.Next Create Your Brand >>><<< Return from Your Niche to Wine Marketing Success Print, PDF, Email, Bookmark and […]

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