Responses by Matt Burns, creative director and Claire Barrett, strategy director, Thirst
Background: Wild Island is a premium gin infused with hand gathered botanicals from its home in the small, stunning Scottish island of Colonsay. It has two variants: Wild Island Gin, a contemporary gin featuring sixteen botanicals, and this latest edition Wild Island Sacred Tree which lets us enjoy Colonsay’s Autumnal harvest all year round.
Reasoning: We wanted to bottle the island’s wild spirit, but needed an equally unruly medium to do so—watercolor. Sacred Tree is named after an ancient Scots calendar that used the bramble vine to represent September, so we borrowed from these berry botanicals to create a juicy color palette. Pairing this with a simple wordmark that nods to the island’s Viking heritage, we achieved the perfect finish by printing our design on both sides of the transfer.
Challenges: The design for the first edition of Wild Island had been such a success that we were worried about second album syndrome. But the core idea of representing Colonsay’s organic, ever-changing land through watercolor held strong and worked really well with the new, Autumnal color palette. The bottles look great together, forming an abstract landscape of their own.
Visual influences: The watercolor really does have a mind of its own, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s very freeing not to be fully in control of the outcome. We experimented a lot until we found something we were happy with, but loved how unpredictable the pattern was—the untamed wilderness we originally saw on the island.
Anything new: We learned about the process of converting our original idea into practical packaging; how do we get a watercolor painting onto packaging? We tried a few different approaches, eventually landing on macro photography as the solution. This was subsequently made into a heat transfer to work in harmony with the contours of the bottle.
Alternative approach: The bottle! We chose a beautiful, ownable bottle shape but soon found out why not many others had used it! The contours made the labeling possibilities very limited, and no paper or transparent labels were feasible. Given our time again, we would probably opt for something that made our lives a bit easier; it’s definitely been a lesson learned for future projects.