Responses by Megan Perkins, strategist, designer and art director.
Background: Known for its striking blue gin bottle and small-batch experimental spirits, the independent artisan distillery Taylor & Smith synthesizes its beautiful Tasmanian surroundings into award-winning drinks to raise your spirits. The brand attracts creative drinkers looking for something special and has a strong female audience. We recognized women were drinking whiskey more than we had anticipated, so we targeted this niche, encouraging the existing creative, female-leaning gin audience to try whiskey and challenging whiskey drinkers to be more adventurous.
Design thinking: Sunshine is a metaphor for the smooth, warming spirit and is central to the packaging and launch campaign that champions the golden liquid. The colors reflect the key ingredients and their environmental influences: single malt barley, pristine glacier lake water, the sun and the clear blue sky of Tasmania.
To meet industry standards of a product display box, we created a solution where the product was visible from all angles. Designed to be kept pride of place in bars and at home—like a tabletop book—the box acts as a marketing tool. Customers can refill their cases with new bottles, making savings in their pockets and the environment. Our launch content was captured using direct sunlight to illuminate and reflect the product, capturing a sense of awe ordinarily generated by the natural environment. Movement and reflection reminiscent of a sundial cast beautiful, contemplative colors and forms.
Challenges: COVID proved difficult during refining and prototyping. Limited material options were coming into Australia, which led to design changes and difficulties securing timelines. Because of the ongoing uncertainty, we pushed back the launch a few months away from the traditional winter and into October. It seemed risky at the time, but it helped us own a distinct space in the market.
Favorite details: It’s very satisfying to bring something fresh to whiskey while avoiding the heritage and masculine tropes that typically accompany this spirit. We gathered insights into the growing number of female whiskey drinkers, and with little convincing, the clients Natalie Smith and Ben Taylor trusted me to take a fresh approach. I loved the opportunity to champion author Sam George-Allen and chef Analiese Gregory as brilliant Tasmanian whiskey-drinking women and brand ambassadors to embody Taylor & Smith’s values throughout the campaign.
Visual influences: Literature, landscapes and art. We recognized that if we introduced a more contemporary aesthetic, it would need to be balanced with familiar references to avoid alienating whiskey traditionalists. Taylor & Swift distill the saturated Tasmanian landscape into its spirits, so the ingredients and their influences inspired the palette. We also incorporated the long literary association of the sun with whiskey.
Specific project demands: There was a bit of back and forth to establish how many recognizable brand qualities we should retain with the higher-priced whiskey. As a boutique distillery, Taylor & Swift’s product range is distillery first with a recognizable, flexible typographic system and bold colors. It took many rounds to determine if we should break this mold before confirming it would benefit from adopting familiar brand characteristics. We elevated and differentiated through the inclusion of a memorable display case. I tend to find that limitations lead to innovation, so although this process took longer, we got the result we needed.