You need a focused brand strategy to lead the wine sector’s charge to sustainability, says Accolade Wine Europe’s MD Caroline Thompson-Hill
In order to reach the scale needed, the transition towards a more eco model has to respond to myriad consumer needs, including a sense of wellbeing
“Wine, why we choose it, how we drink it and what it means to us changes all the time,” says Caroline Thompson-Hill, managing director of Accolade Wines Europe, the global company behind popular brands including Hardys, Mudhouse, Banrock Station, Kumala and Echo Falls.
Right now, environmental issues and sustainability have never been so high in the consumer consciousness, with people increasingly concerned about the wine sector’s impact. As a result, Accolade has been on the move as a business, and last month its European division announced that its branded wine portfolio is now fully carbon neutral.
“Carbon neutrality and sustainability are major focuses for us. There’s a deep passion among the people within Accolade to create a more sustainable sector, and we know that it’s fast rising to the top of the agenda for our customers, too,” says Thompson-Hill.
“There’s a general demand for greener products, with 84% of wine drinkers believing brands have a responsibility to look after the world in which we live. The drinks sector needs to respond to that thinking, and act on its carbon footprint for the sake of the planet. We want Accolade Wines Europe to set a positive example for the rest of the industry to follow.”
What’s red, white and green all over?
The global health and wellness trend is another primary driver for the growing appreciation of sustainable, organic and lower-alcohol wines. So the demand for openness on labels and general brand communications is becoming greater.
“People have good intentions and they want to make the right decisions. What a properly thought through brand strategy and identity does is support them in that endeavour – without losing sight of other drivers. We partner with Denomination because their creative approach to brand strategy and identity helps us get our sustainability message across. But it never loses sight of target consumers’ other needs – wellbeing, and enjoying life’s special moments with friends and family.
“As a result, our consumers are happy and feel that they are making good choices – and we can protect the future of our sector.”
It’s this nuanced approach that sees Accolade recruiting Denomination’s services time and time again. “The team at Denomination get our rationale and the work we’re trying to do,” says Thompson-Hill. “A lot of brand design agencies don’t actually listen – they have a great idea for how your brand should look and they’re often wedded to it. Denomination have a knack of getting to the crux of the challenge by questioning every assumption and taking nothing for granted. It’s an almost psychic ability! And they’re perfectionists.”
Celebrating good times
Take Denomination’s work with Echo Falls. “We asked Denomination to come on board because the brand had become confused and was trying to be too many things to too many people. What Denomination did was create a brand identity that brought clarity and focus – as well as celebrating the eco agenda.
“It didn’t hang together or make sense as it was. Denomination made it joyful again and brought back the elegance. Echo Falls is now a brand that is responding to modern consumer issues, with lighter-weight bottles and lower ABVs, but it’s also young and sophisticated without being complicated. The response on social media has been amazing.”
Denomination’s brand refresh speaks to the new generation of drinker, which has an appetite for light wines that taste good whilst having minimal environmental impact. But they also want to get the most out of life and look forward to those interludes when you pour a glass of wine, kick back and enjoy well-earned leisure time.
“Echo Falls’ waterfall asset responds beautifully to this ethos. As well as being striking and instantly recognisable, it gives a sense of flow and harmony, and the surrounding illustrations lean into the nature-friendly messaging, as well as signalling flavour profiles.
“You need root and branch thinking,” says Thompson-Hill. “Everything has to hang together across all touchpoints and deliver your key brand messages. Denomination’s approach always appeals to target consumers on so many levels.”
Brand strategy has to answer a wide set of needs. Elevating the environmental issue is essential, but it shouldn’t lead to a downplaying of other legitimate desires, such as celebrating fun moments in life with the people you love and looking after yourself. “A good brand strategy will speak to all those agendas, and that’s what Denomination always deliver,” says Thompson-Hill.