Winery Branding: The Complete Guide to Developing a Distinct Wine Brand

A brand strategy enables you to connect with your ideal audience so you can sell more wine.

This is a blog post on winery branding and how to market your winery.

Are you a wine distributor? Do you own a winery or vineyard?

If so, you have probably discovered how difficult it is to compete with established brands. In this post, you will learn how to differentiate your wine brand from all the rest, including:

  • what buying factors are and how to leverage them in winery branding
  • why the quality of your wine doesn’t always matter and what to focus on instead
  • how winery branding helps you win more customers and keeps them coming back for more

Introduction

The number of wine brands is overwhelming. Walk down the aisle of your local grocery or beverage store, and you will see what I mean.

Wine drinkers love having all these choices. But the crowded shelves make it tough for wineries to establish a distinct brand. Yet, that is what you must do to compete with large, mass-market wine distributors.

For most wineries and vineyards, the challenge is two-fold. They must compete with the major brands that dominate the market, and with all the other brands fighting for the remaining share.

Here’s some good news: the marketplace is full of consumers who would love to buy your wine.

The bad news? The competition makes it difficult for them to discover your brand.

You must align your message and image with their expectations for a quality wine brand to get their attention.

Now, let’s explore how.

What Are Buying Factors?

Before we explore winery branding, you must understand buying factors and how they influence consumers in the decision-making process.

These factors can be tangible or intangible. Color and smell are examples of tangible buying factors for wine. Price is another.

The key is to leverage the factors that matter most to the audience you want to attract.

To use buying factors strategically, you must be specific and understand how your target audience perceives each.

For example, “quality” is a common buying factor. Because you’re in the industry, you likely have the ability to determine the quality of a wine brand.

But most of your customers don’t.

Winery owners often assume people know more about wine than they actually do.

For example, even some of your best customers may have difficulty comparing brands. So, educating them on winemaking might teach them how to make comparisons. This strategy will also position you as a trusted resource.

What Matters More Than Taste?

Branding your winery

Did you know that a higher price can improve the taste of wine?

There is a direct link between price and perceived wine quality.

A group of researchers put this theory to the test. They served a low-priced wine to a group of regular wine drinkers but told them it was an expensive brand. After tasting the wine, most said it had more flavor than other samples.

Researchers then served a high-priced wine but told the audience they were drinking a cheaper brand. As expected, the test group preferred the “more expensive” wine instead.

This study confirmed that wine isn’t just a beverage, it’s an experience. What customers see and feel matters as much as taste—perhaps more. That’s why an outstanding customer experience will help you sell more wine.

What Is a Customer Experience?

Sales data shows that making one sale requires up to eight touchpoints.

This statistic reveals that most people who encounter your brand for the first time won’t buy anything. Instead, they’re likely to shop around for a while before they decide which wine brand to buy.

Many wineries rely on tastings, flyers, and events to sell more of their products. But each of these activities only represents one touchpoint. To get more customers, you must give them several opportunities to learn about your brand.

The customer journey provides your audience with multiple brand touchpoints.

The customer journey is a collection of physical and emotional experiences that create a perception of a brand. A pleasant experience builds a positive interaction between the brand and its audience.

5 stages of the customer journey

Some elements of the customer experience are:

  • ambience/setting
  • interaction with staff
  • understanding the fermentation and bottling processes
  • multiple digital touchpoints (such as social media and websites)
  • club memberships
  • resources and customer education
  • opportunity for customers to provide feedback
  • special events
  • concierge service

These elements work together to make an impression of a brand. The more positive that impression is, the more valuable consumers perceive the brand to be.

READ MORE: How to Master All 5 Phases of the Customer Journey

How to Use Your Website to Build a Customer Experience

A recent article shows that online wine sales account for 55% of industry growth. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic created a temporary boost in demand. But online wine sales will remain strong for years to come.

In other words, you’re missing out if you aren’t targeting customers online. A website is essential for winery brands that want to capitalize on Internet sales.

Your website is a powerful communication tool. It’s also an effective way to leverage winery branding and reach untapped markets.

How?

Most potential customers won’t visit your winery in person because you’re too far away. But they will take a virtual tour via your website. Creating this online experience opens your brand up to a massive audience.

Click this link to learn how to use a website as part of your winery branding strategy.

But you can’t create an exceptional customer experience—on- or offline—without a thorough understanding of the target audience.

Your Target Audience

The purpose of winery branding is to make your product more attractive to a target audience. But first, you must be able to identify who that audience is.

Mass-market brands reach large markets by creating wines that appeal to most palates. But for smaller winery brands without mass-market authority, narrowing the market makes finding the best customers much easier.

Demographics are commonly used to segment a target audience. Though demographics work, you will have more success selling wine using psychographics.

Psychographics are attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyle characteristics. Leveraging these traits will supercharge your marketing.

Why?

Demographics are fine, but they don’t always help you tap into the audience’s emotions and personal values. Emotion plays a powerful role in motivating customers to buy. Psychographics enable you to build an emotional connection with the target market.

Not all wine drinkers within the same demographic are alike. Mindsets, lifestyles, and preferences will vary within each age group. For example, some drink wine in social settings, while others only serve wine for special occasions.

To attract your best customers, you must understand how they think, act and feel.

Here are some characteristics to include as you develop your ideal customer profile:

  • Age, education, and income
  • The homes they live in
  • Where they shop for wine
  • Why and when they drink wine
  • Are they experienced, newbies, or casual wine drinkers?
  • Do they link wine to a higher quality of life or social status? What does that mean to them?
  • Do they believe it offers health benefits? Why?

This process takes time, so don’t rush. The more thorough you are, the more accurate your profile will be. Once you’ve developed an ideal customer profile, it’s time to focus on your winery branding strategy.

READ MORE: How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Winery Branding: Positioning

A brand position is the perception customers have of your business compared to competitors. To understand how positioning works, consider how you might categorize wine drinkers.

Here are some examples:

  • newbies
  • socialites
  • purists/traditionalists

Each person drinks wine for different reasons.

If you want customers who are traditionalists and willing to pay more, you might choose to sell higher-priced varieties. This premium brand position would attract experienced wine drinkers who appreciate the value of pricier bottles. Likewise, the cost-conscious audience is less likely to show interest.   

On the other hand, newbies may not appreciate the nuances of production enough to buy expensive wines. If this is your target market, you would be better off selling low- to mid-priced brands. This affordable brand position contrasts the one above.

The goal of positioning is to align your brand and ideal target market.

How to Create Your Wine Brand Identity

Most people are familiar with the visual aspects of a brand identity. For wineries, these visuals include a logo, colors, bottle, and label. Typography (fonts) is another visual component.

A brand identity is like your business’s dress code. Whether or not we are aware of it, the way someone dresses influences our opinion of them. Likewise, brand visuals have a similar impact on a business.

For example, a traditional brand might incorporate minimalist colors and serif fonts. But modern, casual brands may use bold colors and sans-serif fonts.

READ MORE: 17 Minimalist Color Palettes for Your Next Design

Packaging and labels are one of the most prominent elements of winery branding. There are others, such as whether the bottle is a cork or screw-top and the varieties you sell.

The Brand Story

Your brand story encourages people to follow along and get involved with your mission. A good story makes your brand relatable and memorable. Authenticity is the key to crafting an interesting brand story.

To help you create a compelling brand story, think of your favorite brands. Why are they special? What about them captures your interest?

Now, think about your brand. Why did you get into winemaking? What did you set out to do that makes you unique?

Write the answers to these questions down on paper. Then, determine how to incorporate these themes into a brand narrative that never ends.

Share your story on your company’s website, social media pages, and events. The more you share it, the more brand awareness your brand story will create.

Conclusion

Winery branding is a powerful way to build an audience and get more customers. It sets you apart and shows people what makes you unique.

If you need help with winery branding or building a website, email me personally at chris@goldenvineyardbranding.com.

Until next time,

Chris

Avatar of chris fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Director, The Golden Vineyard Branding Company

Learn more about brand strategy.

Are you struggling to connect with your audience? Do you want to show them how you're different from competitors?