Vikre Distillery


SMAKK Puts A Little Duluth, Minnesota in Every Bottle with Quirky Branding for Vikre Distillery

Duluth, Minnesota is a world all its own, known for its natural beauty and quirky people. So, it’s no wonder that it’s the home of Vikre Distillery, a handmade spirits brand with personality to spare, a fiercely loyal fanbase and a homegrown approach. Hoping to rethink its brand to embrace its natural quirks, Vikre teamed with branding and marketing agency SMAKK for a new identity that delivers a piece of Duluth to every customer.

Vikre Distillery is the passion of Emily and Joel Vikre, a husband and wife team whose approach to spirits champions a triple bottom line: people, planet, and prosperity. This means not only developing a certified organic, zero waste process, but building bottle reuse and giveback programs, and sourcing ingredients locally – whether its wild botanicals, grains, or water from the Lake Superior watershed. But as they looked to expand from hometown hero to industry standout, they knew they needed to more clearly communicate these singular qualities.

“Vikre needed deeper brand storytelling that would act as a springboard for more national distribution, brand name awareness and a cult following,” explains SMAKK Founder Katie Klencheski. “We really wanted their brand to be a reflection of their story, their personality and, most importantly, a sense of place. These are people dedicated to doing things the right way, not just the easy way, across all aspects of the brand — from sourcing, to sustainability, to their dedication to their employees and the experience they give their customers, both in their tasting room and out in the wild. All of that needed to take center stage.”

SMAKK also saw a growing trend in the spirits industry. “People, especially younger generations, are really focused on moderation and making intentional choices towards greater health and wellbeing,” notes Klencheski. This meant it was essential to showcase the unique botanical ingredients and flavor profiles that make Vikre’s spirits different, interesting and something that customers want to share with others.

Leading strategy, brand development (including new identity and messaging), as well as packaging and website redesign, SMAKK used hints of surrealism to build a world of Vikre that reflects the vibrant Duluth community and its Nordic heritage. From the logo to iconography to the retro-inspired suite of graphics, the identity is rich with charm and eccentricity. Collaged imagery referencing local places (like Minnesota’s Temperance River), characters (like a wild Norwegian grandmother) and ingredients (like pine and juniper berry) represent Duluth and Vikre distilling practices while also building a strong narrative.

This surprising approach extends to the bottle packaging. Each flavor takes on its own unique persona, perfect for standing out on shelf with a clarity of message and a clear hierarchy of information. With each product, a new story and personality can be discovered and celebrated.

Like a modern take on Norwegian “hygge” – a cozy, warm nature of a space that feels intimate – Vikre’s new brand embodies the idea of cheerful gatherings, hosting parties and providing drinks as an act of kindness shared between family and friends. It also demonstrates how a celebration of place can be a means to better tasting, higher quality and clean products.

“From the beginning, we fell in love with the vivid picture that Emily and Joel created of Duluth as a uniquely quirky and eclectic natural haven,” says Klencheski. “Now, with their new branding, Vikre can embrace the vibrant community, eccentricities and values that are key to the foundation of its brand ethos. People are looking for meaning, purpose and connection now more than ever and we’re proud to partner with a spirits brand delivering that more.”