Getting things wrong can be an expensive business when it comes to branding – in both the direct costs and the stuttering failure of communicating an image.
I must say that, while I’m a sympathetic sort of chap, I was not entirely sorry to hear that Charles Banks, American owner of Fable wine estate in Tulbagh (the former Tulbagh Mountain Vineyards), had run into a spot of bother with the name of his brand in the USA. Seems like someone got there first. Not the sort of thing that it’s nice to discover after you’ve already paid, no doubt, large sums in checking trademarks and having your own brand established.
So, I believe we can soon expect a bit of a tweak with the name.
And a more fundamental tweak with the label, apparently – which can only be good thing. The original label design was pretty dreadful, I thought. As was the whole concept – which reeked of a PR/branding company’s halfway-clever idea rather than of authenticity of place (which is what I’m sure the winery is all about). Serious wines were – are – being lumbered with the sort of “critter” label that generally goes with a pretty downmarket level of wine. The whole thing is a sort-of tatty Afro-kitsch of the Lion King type – there’s even a lion, along with a baboon and a jackal-bird.
Clearly it was not only me that didn’t like the look of the original labels (it amazes me that clearly important people must have liked them!). They were quickly and quietly changed, as you can see from the pics. A bit less of the horrible oranges and reds, and at least it no longer looks as though the labels have been stuck on crooked.
What’s next? Are they going to abandon the animal stuff? Perhaps even the idea that a buyer of serious wines wants to read a little story on the label (year after year – or should I say vintage after vintage?).
A strange sideline to this development emerged, though, when I googled for the images, and came across a very different sort of design for the range – on an American website devoted to packaging design. See alongside. But whether this version of the critter idea is the look of the Fable future, or simply a rejected look of the past, I don’t know (I suspect the latter).
Luckily the wines are fabulous, whatever happens to the packaging.
[First published under the now deleted “Widow’s Nephew’ section on this website]