Esoteric Wine
UX | Branding | Package Design

This project was created to develop an instagrammable wine brand that would help new-to-wine women (generally between the ages of 21-35) develop their tastes.


1.0 Overview

Research began with an analysis of current competition. What kind of brands currently cater to new to wine? Are they pandering to only millennials or women of all ages? A quick google search of ‘instagrammable wine’ reveals several brands including Usual Wine, The Marigny’s, and Paper Planes are considered some of the top brands. However, deeper digging found that Thrive was also a top contender for strong branding aimed at being instagrammable. 

From this point, I analyzed some of the successes of these brands. For Thrive Wines, the branding centers on a light, airy feel using watercolor leaves in light greens + turquoise to exemplify their white wines. On the other side of the spectrum is Usual Wine. Their unique branding comes in the form of a triangular bottle paired with bold lines to create a very aggressive look. I also took the chance to explore some of Starbucks branding. Their ability to combine a strict set of guidelines with seasonal artwork for not just their paper cups, but also their reusable mugs and thermoses posed an interesting in-point. The Marigny’s brand is a whole ‘nother brand experience. Bright and poppy, colorful and artistic, it feels much preppier than the other brands.

While each of these brands has their own unique in-point, they are all missing two things that the 21-35 year old, female age group loves, pastels and animals. So now there’s the problem of Instagram + pastels + animals + wanting to know more about wine but not knowing where to start and what does all of that equal? The answer is, a very unique branding opportunity.

1.1 User Research

With my main branding problem in place, I could begin to think about a solution. I looked at art, astrological and zodiac signs, music and more for solutions. The route of astrological and zodiac signs peaked my interest though. It’s something that everyone is familiar with, I know quite a few people who actually check their horoscope on a daily basis. To gain a better understanding of what my users thought of this subject I conducted a quick online survey and from that developed 3 user profiles.

My user profiles became Chloe, Em, and Heather. Chloe; quiet, strong, and curious. Em; bubbly, sweet, and happy. Heather; the jaguar; determined, independent, and strong. These women fit their spirit animal in personality and taste. Users are able to take a test based on wine flavor profiles and personality to discover which flavor of wine suits them best.



2.0 Overview

My approach began to narrow in on spirit animals, a well-known and commonly used term used to compare a person’s personality with characteristics of an animal. It’s used as an ice breaker, doesn’t have religious ties, and is generally well known. Combining an animal with my user profiles and a flavor palette became my direction for moving forward.

2.1 Inspiration

With a clear direction in mind, I began to search for inspiration. Artwork, typography, quotes, and photography were collected and analyzed to form a mood board that properly expressed the brand that I was trying to put forward. To help with this endeavor, I narrowed down my brand to three words: ethereal, inviting, and personal. Ethereal heavily influence my art style; pastel colors paired with otherworldly line play. Inviting took form in my typography; an open and simple typeface. Personal lay in my brand photography, as if my audience were actually in the moment.

2.2 Artwork

While I wanted something unique to the brand, without hiring an actual artist (entirely out of the scope of the project), I would have to create the artwork myself. I decided that this was a good learning opportunity. Since I had only been trained in traditional methods of art such as pencil drawing and watercolor painting, I had the chance to learn digital painting. It poses some unique opportunity and in-depth knowledge of Photoshop that I wouldn’t be able to get any other way.


3.0 Implementation

Once the design was approved and ready to go, I ran a test print using Gallo's print lab. Plover was my demo label and I used a nice textured paper with a simple print and a raised gloss applique on the white portion of the drawing. Success! Now that I had my test print, I dove into how my wine would look on the market. This included building a demo instagram and website.

Kat Fenton | Little Rock, AR |

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Kathryn Fenton