I, THE QUEEN — Branding Case Study

Scepter & Sword Wine Co. produces premium, yet approachable wines from Columbia Valley, WA, one of the world’s most exciting up-and-coming wine producing regions.  But this is a wine company unlike any other.  It was founded with the mission of building a wine-oriented, experiential platform to help inspire curiosity, provoke discussion and challenge perceptions around social equality while celebrating female empowerment. 

Boldly Turning Social Conventions Upside Down

Case Study

Mubien Brands + Workshop Built (MB+WB) was tasked to design, create and develop the entire experience:  

  • Brand strategy
  • Brand concept
  • Brand architecture
  • Verbal brand
  • Copywriting
  • Visual brand identity
  • Company naming
  • Product naming 
  • Packaging design 
  • Website
  • Go-to-market strategy
  • Collateral design
  • Art Direction 
  • Photography Direction
  • Video Direction
  • Social Media Management

First, what the research said

With this bold mission in mind, we scoured the research in a hunt for insights. Wine has been around forever, and we knew that it was the least innovative of the major alcohol categories (why should beer and spirits have all the fun, right?), but we needed to understand where the opportunities were. 

We found what we were looking for:  

  1. Insight #1: Most wine is purchased at a supermarket; while ecommerce is growing quickly
  2. Insight #2: 40% of supermarket wine purchases are made by people who didn’t have a brand choice in mind before they made it to the wine aisle
  3. Insight #3: For half of wine shoppers, brands are important while a quarter say that labels are important in making wine purchase decisions

These insights told us that consumers were open to new offerings, that wine shopping is a bit of an adventure and that the big opportunities are likely going to brands that can stand out from the crowd. 

Building the Brand Foundation

We uncovered the values and propositions that define and motivate the brand essence. At the core of the brand is the desire to motivate social change by challenging perceptions that are formed by misguided social conventions. The idea of provoking critical thinking through a simple experience fascinated us. Is it history or herstory? Why are the stories of brave female monarchs less told than those of their male counterparts? Shouldn’t at least some of history be written by the Victorias? 

A fine wine, it can be argued, is the ultimate device to spark discussion, tell stories and yes, celebrate female empowerment. 

Concept

Our team reviewed art museums, books and archives to learn more about the role of Queens through history. The imagery of the scepter became a point of interest as it appears in different shapes and sizes and is present in many cultures throughout history. We also believed that the visual interest of the scepter was bound to inspire curiosity since it is not an object commonly seen or referred to today. With its ornamental design details, sparkling pearls, gleaming gems and gold bling, who wouldn’t do a double-take when encountering one of these? 

While we designed the entire packaging experience around the historic scepter, we wanted to play freely with the concept of time to produce a relevant brand that makes you think and really question your perception. The packaging reflects this approach, shunning old wine traditions and embracing new ideas: 

  • A label that demands to be turned upside down where it becomes a scepter, the symbol of her authority and empowerment
  • Clear glass bottles promote the concept of transparency while allowing customers to see the beautiful colors and hues of the quality wine inside
  • Finally we designed a distinctive metallic label application that runs vertically through the entire face of the bottle, from neck to the base

Naming and Brand Architecture

We were tasked with creating the wine company name, a branded product architecture and the product naming conventions.

For the company name, Scepter & Sword immediately resonated because, in addition to being a sweet alliteration, it sounds strong while looking and feeling historic yet interesting to modern audiences. 

Because the company wanted to grow and diversify its wine products, we devised a brand hierarchy to help facilitate the company’s strategy. 

Our approach to naming the wine I, THE QUEEN was inspired by discovering that this statement appeared directly above her signed name on her most important orders, edicts and proclamations… this effectively reflected the symbolism of the scepter while connecting the concept of the queen with a modern day colloquialism.

Visual Direction 

We wanted to seize the opportunity to define our scepter concept through supporting collateral and as a visually-oriented brand, our approach was to use the opportunity to create something that would be eye-catching while respecting the brand’s mission. We were set on recreating a painterly-style photographic application that would challenge the viewer's perception of our conceptual queen. 

Website 

The element of challenging convention and perception is present everywhere the brand is displayed. For the website, we designed and developed a website that delivers the promise of a visually rich and stimulating experience to the user through a variety of touches, including a scroll that moves horizontally instead of vertically. Big, bold imagery and typography guide the user and stunning product photography capture the details of the scepter wine bottles in dramatic fashion. 

Credits 

  • Client: Scepter&Sword Wine Co.
  • Agency: Mubien Brands + Workshop Built
  • Creative Direction: David Mubien, Robert Laplante, Víctor Mubien
  • Art Direction and Label Design: David Mubien
  • UI/UX: Javier Ochoa
  • Web Development: Ángel Pérez
  • Video: Jordyn Roach, EdiciónPRO
  • Motion: Daniel Iglesias
  • Queen Photography: Kate Woodman
  • Model: Madeline Minkema
  • Hair Styling: Andy Tseng
  • Makeup: Amy Gillespie
  • Backdrop/set: BackdropStudio
  • Product Photography: Víctor Mubien, Daniel Iglesias, Rick Starkman
  • Music: Apashe - Good News

For more information make sure to check out https://www.mubien.com

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