Responses by Dominic Burke, founder, Knockout
Background: Knockout was briefed to create a new brand, visual identity and bottle design for ZEO, a range of sophisticated, zero-alcohol spirits that raises the bar in the no/low ABV category with a drinking experience that is sensorial, satisfying and unforgettable. ZEO isn’t for teetotalers; it’s for sociable urbanites who love to drink, but sometimes feel a bit of alcohol fatigue. When this happens, they still want to enjoy something truly special.
Reasoning: The duality of the target audience’s blend-in and stand-out desire set the course for the creative, inspiring the genesis of the brand’s symbol: a chameleon. The bottle features an intricate pattern illustration of this chameleon to convey the sheer craft, sense of skill and attention to detail that goes into distilling ZEO. Hidden within the linework are depictions of botanicals to further reinforce the multilayered sensation of ZEO’s drinking experience. This highly detailed expression is then offset by a clean wordmark, featuring bespoke typography that is bold in its simplicity, giving the design an overall contemporary feel.
Challenges: The no/low ABV category is so new and its design conventions are still being formed. While it would have been easy to fall into the trap of mimicking the conventions of traditional spirits, we were determined that the design would showcase ZEO as a product in its own right. Ultimately, the challenge was to deliver compelling creativity that not only differentiated ZEO, but also raised the bar for the category as a whole, truly giving alcohol-free spirits a distinctive platform of their own.
Favorite details: ZEO’s duality of being crafted and detailed while also being contemporary and minimal. ZEO strikes this balance with the intricate illustration of chameleon and the bold simplicity of the brandmark. This aesthetic supports the brand’s proposition, reflecting the complexity of its distillation process while driving home that it is crafted for modern, alternative tastes.
Time constraints: We needed to ensure that we launched by January, as this is an important month for non-alcoholic spirits and products. Launching even one month later in February indicates a disaster. A significant amount of sales take place in “Dry January,” so we had to be in market and established by that time.
Specific demands: Working with a challenger brand is exciting and it presented a real opportunity to push the boundaries and create something truly brave. But, this also comes with interesting challenges that demand agility and resourcefulness. In this instance, we found ourselves designing the brand in parallel with the liquid development and due to COVID, there were delays as the brand was couldn’t get the ingredients it needed. It all worked out in the end, but it definitely illustrated how important it is to be flexible.
Alternative approach: The stock bottle we selected for ZEO adds to the overall simplicity and cleanliness of the design, reinforcing that this is a contemporary spirit for a modern audience. However, we would have loved the opportunity to craft a bespoke glass bottle. While using stock bottles has its advantages, bespoke structures always level up a brand’s distinctiveness. As the no/low ABV market is still in its early stages, it would have given us the chance sharpen ZEO’s creative edge even further with a unique, ownable shape that would have been, without a doubt, category defining.