Responses by Hayley Barrett, design director, Design Bridge
Background: Caleño is a new non-alcoholic spirit created by entrepreneur Ellie Webb. Non-alcoholic alternatives to spirits need to feel sophisticated to be a credible choice for people who don’t want to drink alcohol, but still want to enjoy a drink in a social situation. We partnered with Ellie to build the Caleño brand story and packaging from scratch.
Reasoning: Non-alcoholic spirits need well-crafted designs that communicate the complexity of the liquid’s ingredients and production methods. Our challenge was to create a vibrant brand world for Caleño that celebrates its Colombian roots and supports the brand’s belief that you don’t need to drink alcohol to be spontaneous and have fun. We wanted to provide the start-up brand with more than just a beautiful bottle.
Challenges: We were lucky there was so much inspiration to draw from, and we came up with lots of different creative routes. What we really struggled with was which ones to put forward to the client, and which ones to cull. Luckily, Ellie had a clear vision for the brand and she’s incredibly decisive.
Favorite details: The rich storytelling and the less obvious and hidden tidbits. For example, the use of gold doesn’t just add a premium finish to the bottle; gold was a primary export of the Incan Empire. Also, Caroline Slade, our director of words, crafted the copy around the pack in a rhythmic way, just like the beats in salsa music.
Visual influences: Ellie’s vision was rooted in her Colombian heritage, and we paid special attention to the city of Cali, famed for its salsa dancing. We were particularly drawn to the dynamic character of Huitaca—a free-spirited goddess of arts, dance and music in pre-Colombian culture. She became a focal point of the design, dancing energetically around the bottle in a billowing dress of bright, colorful patterns inspired by traditional Incan textiles. Also, the feathers woven into Huitaca’s dress and our illustrated owl on the back label hint at the mythological connection to owls and a play on the idea of taking flight into the night. When it came to crafting the wordmark, we took inspiration from South American shop signage.
Anything new: As an agency, we have lots of experience working with spirits and beverage brands all over the world, but non-alcoholic spirits was a new category for us. It’s important to constantly challenge yourself as a designer, and to always be open to learning new things and push yourself out of your comfort zone. This project enabled us to find the perfect balance between our expertise and exploring something new.