Oliver Soft Wine Collection

Derrick Lin


Design: Affinity Creative Group
Location: United States
Project Type: Produced
Client: Oliver Winery & Vineyards
Product Launch Location: United States
Packaging Contents: Wine
Packaging Substrate / Materials: Paper, Glass

Affinity Creative’s Sweet Redesign for Oliver Winery

How do you makeover the flagship label of a 700,000 case winery? “Very carefully,” says Cynthia Sterling, Creative Director at Affinity Creative Group, who recently led a close-in and finely tuned brand redesign program for Oliver Winery & Vineyards.

Since its modest beginnings in Bloomington, Indiana, in 1960, Oliver Winery and Vineyards has grown to become one of the largest wine producers in the U.S. Their success is fueled by a philosophy that all styles of wine deserve the highest degrees of the winemaker’s craft, commitment to quality and respect for customer choice. With the goal of expanding retail distribution and inviting more consumers to explore the Oliver range of fruit-forward, refreshing and tasty wines, Oliver leadership engaged Affinity Creative to carefully and delicately evolve the look of its foundational line of wines, known as The Soft Wine Collection.

“Our Soft Wine Collection Sweet Red is a huge driver for Oliver Winery’s success, as one of the top-selling sweet red wines in the U.S. It’s been one of the best-loved wines in our portfolio, so we were careful in selecting a partner to help us redesign the collection’s packaging,” said Julie Adams, CEO.

Ms. Sterling describes the creative challenge: “Oliver’s Soft Wine Collection already had a significant following in existing core markets. Given the strong existing visual equities, we focused on evolving them to work even more effectively in new retail markets while retaining a familiar look and feel that existing consumers would recognize.”

One of the most significant changes made was to state on the labels that these were sweet wines. Sterling continues, “Through a category audit, we determined that it was not only okay to identify the wines as ‘Sweet Red’ or ‘Sweet Rose’; the consumer actually preferred and appreciated this straightforward communication of flavor profile.” It also reinforces winery Co-Founder and Board Member Bill Oliver’s belief that wine is an experience everyone can enjoy—it makes life a little sweeter. So, it made sense to put that descriptor on the label, particularly since Oliver Sweet Red Wine is one of the top best-selling sweet wines sold in the U.S.

The Affinity creative team made many other adjustments and embellishments to the label design, all with an eye toward enhancing, upgrading, and polishing existing design elements so they work to maximum effectiveness in new markets, where consumers may not be familiar with the Oliver Winery and Vineyards brand. Close inspection of the ‘after’ label reveals a new order to the information shown, or what designers call the ‘label hierarchy.’ Now, there is increased attention on the Oliver brandmark along with a supporting line describing this grouping as the Soft Wine Collection.

Affinity Creative Group designers simplified and enlivened the existing illustration of a grape cluster, so it now appears ‘fresh off the vine.’ Additionally, by shifting the location of the fruit, the label is no longer ‘top-heavy,’ allowing the Oliver name to take ‘center stage.’ The new location of the grape cluster on the lower right-hand side of the label is more unexpected and arresting—it stops the eye and visually cradles the varietal descriptor for added legibility. The addition of copper foil treatments adds a glimmer effect that catches the light, serves as a quality cue, and increases shelf impact in the retail environment. And the elimination of the torn or deckled edge on the bottom of the previous version help project a fresher, cleaner, and more modern impression.

In the words of Ms. Adams, “The Affinity Creative team adeptly balanced a fresh, new look with the need for continued brand recognition. We are so pleased with the results of the project.” The revamped packaging design has been enthusiastically received in the marketplace. Affinity’s careful makeover works as intended: attracting new consumers while strengthening the brand’s positive emotive connection and bond with existing loyalists. With its enhanced footprint, expanding distribution, and new partnerships with national retailers, Oliver Winery finished 2020 with 40% year-over-year growth. All in all, a pretty sweet outcome.