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

Building a winery brand is a great way to create more value for your winery and increase sales. Here's how to do it.

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

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

Wine drinkers love having all these choices. But for winery owners, it’s becoming more difficult to establish a distinctive brand.

Do you want to know more about winery branding and how to develop a unique brand? If so, you’re in the right place.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • what buying factors are and how they affect your winery brand
  • why the quality of your wine doesn’t always matter and what to focus on instead
  • winery branding that will help you win more customers and keep them coming back for more

What Are Buying Factors and Why Should You Care?

Before we explore winery branding, it’s essential to know about buying factors. These are the things people consider as they decide to purchase your wine.

Different customers buy for various reasons. So, to sell more wine, you need to leverage what customers care about when purchasing it.

The key is to know what factors matter most to the audience you want to attract.

I’ll go into more detail about how to do this in the section that follows.

Buying factors can be tangible or intangible. For wine, color and smell are examples of tangible buying factors. Price is another.

Intangible factors aren’t physical, which makes them more difficult to communicate. But they’re also more powerful because they tap into the customer’s core beliefs and values. Examples of intangible buying factors are status, integrity, and trust.

To leverage any buying factor effectively, you must be specific. But, most of all, you must know how your target audience perceives each one.

For example, quality is a common buying factor. I’m sure you can think of several things that determine the quality of a wine brand. That’s because you’re an expert in the field.

But your customers aren’t.

Don’t assume your audience knows as much about your business as you do. For example, even your best customers may not be able to discern how one wine brand differs from others like it. That’s why you must educate them on how to determine the quality of the wine.

Provide resources to educate your audience on winemaking processes. Showing them what goes into making a bottle of superb wine also allows you to build credibility and trust.

What Matters More Than Taste?

Branding your winery

To the dismay of vintners everywhere, most customers cannot identify a wine’s uniqueness or quality by its taste.

Of course, people want a wine that tastes good. But did you know a higher price can influence customers to buy your wine? It can alter their opinion of how it tastes.

There’s a direct link between price and taste. To prove it, a group of researchers tested this theory with regular wine drinkers.

Scientists served the audience a low-priced wine but told them it was an expensive brand. However, after tasting it, most said it had more flavor and preferred it over other samples.

To solidify their theory, researchers served a high-priced wine. But this time, they told the audience it was a cheaper brand. As expected, the test group said they preferred the “more expensive” wine.

Many in the wine industry already know what this study confirmed. Wine isn’t just a beverage; it’s an experience. What you see and feel matters just as much as taste.

It’s critical to develop an exceptional customer experience if you want to create more appeal for your win brand.

What Is a Customer Experience?

The term customer experience is popular in the marketing world. But there’s a lot of confusion around how to create one.

Consumers want to know more about the wines they drink. They want to get a feel for how it’s made, the ingredients, and why these things matter.

The customer experience is the cumulative effect of physical and emotional elements that create a perception of a business or product. The customer experience, when executed with intent, can be a powerful way to build a positive interaction with a brand.

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 touch points (social media, websites, etc.)
  • club memberships
  • resources and customer education
  • opportunity for customers to provide feedback
  • special events
  • concierge service

These work together to give people an overall impression of your brand. The more positive that impression is, the more valuable they perceive your 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

Sales data shows it takes eight touchpoints to make one sale.

That means most people who come into contact with your brand for the first time won’t buy. Instead, they’re likely to shop around for a while before they decide which wines to buy.

Many wineries rely on wine tastings and events to sell more wine. But that doesn’t allow for many touchpoints. You’ve got to give people more opportunities to learn about your brand.

You’re multiplying the losses if you aren’t targeting customers online.

A recent article shows that online wine sales account for 55% of growth in the industry. So even though the numbers spiked because of the COVID-19 pandemic, online purchasing will remain strong.

For winery brands that go online, a website pays big dividends.

Your website is one of the most powerful communication tools you have. It’s also one of the most effective ways a winery brand can reach an audience.

How?

Most customers won’t visit your winery in person because you’re too far away. But you can create a virtual tour with your website, which opens your brand up to a vast audience of wine drinkers.

Many winery brands that have websites aren’t using them correctly. The sites don’t enhance the brand, compel users to explore, or convert visitors.

Click this link to learn more about how to create a winery brand website.

Now that we know how to create a customer experience, we’ve got to understand more about the customers themselves.

Your Target Audience

The purpose of building and developing a winery brand is to make it more attractive to a target audience. But first, you must be able to identify who those people are.

Not all wine drinkers are alike. For example, some prefer lower-priced wines—other wine drinkers like red over white or vice versa. And some only drink wine on special occasions.

In a section above, I wrote about the link between price and perceived taste. A group of people will pay more because they believe price indicates a wine’s quality.

Of course, demographics play a role in who your target market is as well. For example, the preferences of older audiences will differ from those of younger age groups.

It’s up to you to determine who your best customers are. An ideal customer profile will help you develop a clear picture of your target audience. To create an effective profile, imagine the person sitting in front of you.

How old are they? What does a typical day look like for them? How do they think?

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 wine drinkers, newbies, or are they casual drinkers?
  • Do they see wine as one of the finer things in life? What does that mean to them?
  • Do they think it offers health benefits? Why?

This process takes time, but don’t rush. The more thorough you are, the more accurate your profile will be.

Once you’ve developed your ideal customer profile, it’s time to focus on your brand identity and positioning.

READ MORE: How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile

Winery Branding: Positioning

What do you want people to think of when your wine brand comes to mind?

This impression or perception is called brand positioning.

To get a clearer understanding of how positioning works, think of different wine drinkers and how you perceive them. Here are some examples:

  • newbies
  • socialites
  • purists/traditionalists

Each one likely drinks wine for different reasons. If you want to appeal to the purist, for example, you may focus on Old World varieties and traditional winemaking processes.

Newbies may not know much about wine production. Some may not even care. Therefore, you might be better off with low- to mid-priced brands while educating them on various wine topics.

The goal is to find a target market and customize your brand to align with the values of that group.

Targeting a broad market is difficult. Mass-market brands do this by creating wines that appeal to most people (i.e., bold, fruity flavors). However, more experienced winemakers understand that they must focus on a narrower market for their brands to succeed.

It’s how people see your brand that counts. So how do you want people to see your wine brand compared to competitors?

Creating Your Brand Identity

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

Again, everything should align with your audience’s preferences.

Your brand identity is like a dress code for your business. Whether or not we know it, the way someone dresses influences how we see them. Brand visuals have the same impact on businesses.

For example, if you want to establish a traditional brand, it might be best to incorporate minimalist colors and serif fonts. However, modern, casual brands may do the opposite, using 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 your winery’s brand identity. There are others, such as whether the bottle is a cork or screw-top and the varietals you sell.

The Brand Story

Brand stories are prevalent in today’s marketplace. Why? Because stories make your business relatable and memorable.

Authenticity is the key to crafting a compelling brand story.

Why did you get into winemaking? What did you set out to do those other wineries aren’t? What are your big-vision goals?

A good brand story doesn’t just explain why you started. It shows people what makes you different.

Don’t be afraid to share the obstacles and challenges you faced, even your doubts and fears. Then, people will cheer you on when you show them how you overcame those problems.

Your brand story encourages people to get involved with their emotions—and emotional connections are powerful.

Don’t think it’s possible?

Think of your favorite brands. Why are they special? How do they inspire you? What about them captures your interest?

Write the answers to these questions down on paper. Then, think of how to incorporate these same elements into your brand.

Share your brand story everywhere—your website, social media, and events. The more you do it, the better you’ll get at telling it.

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 want to create a brand or assess the one you have—or if you want a website that enhances your brand—email me personally at chris@goldenvineyardbranding.com.

Until next time,

Chris

Chris Fulmer

Chris Fulmer

Director, The Golden Vineyard Branding Company