Direct-to-consumer (DTC) wine sales are becoming increasingly popular, as more and more wineries turn away from traditional B2B models.
But building a successful DTC brand isn't easy—it takes more than a great bottle of wine. You need to create an identity that resonates with your target audience and stands out in the market.
In this Marzipan guide, we'll be walking you through the elements that make up a comprehensive DTC wine branding strategy. From mission statements to logo design, we'll cover the basics of creating an eye-catching and memorable brand.
Ready? Let's dive in.
What Is DTC Wine?
We've already covered DTC wine in-depth on the blog, but it's worth taking a minute to re-define the term.
DTC stands for direct-to-consumer — it's a type of ecommerce that allows wine producers to sell directly to customers, bypassing traditional middlemen like retailers, wholesalers, restaurants, and distributors. DTC wine sales are on the rise as wine drinkers realise that buying directly from the producer often means better prices and more personalised customer experiences.
But DTC wine isn't just about money — it's about cultivating relationships with customers through an effective branding strategy.
What Is a DTC Wine Branding Strategy?
A branding strategy is a plan for systematically building relationships with customers and other stakeholders. Or, in simpler terms, it's a plan for making sure that your customers know who you are, what you stand for, and why they should care.
A good DTC wine branding strategy has three interconnected elements:
- Brand Heart: Purpose, vision, mission, and values.
- Verbal Identity: Brand essence, tag lines, messaging pillars, and voice.
- Visual Identity: Logos, colour palettes, and typography.
To launch an effective DTC wine brand, you'll need to invest time in each of these elements. With a solid strategy in place, you're much more likely to succeed.
Ready to get started?
Building Your DTC Wine Branding Strategy Team
Creating and executing a branding strategy is a team effort. Whether your branding team is entirely in-house or you decide to outsource parts of the process, you'll need to fill a few key roles before you dive in:
- Project Lead: Responsible for aligning the project with business goals, tracking progress, and keeping the project on track.
- Creative Lead: Responsible for overseeing creative direction, design work, and copywriting.
- Marketing Lead: Responsible for developing your messaging and content, as well as driving brand awareness.
- Culture Lead: Responsible for ensuring consistency and reinforcing your values.
- Communications Lead: Responsible for coordinating external messaging and public relations.
The roles you fill will be specific to your team's size and needs, but having a core group of people to collaborate on the project is a must.
How To Create a DTC Wine Branding Strategy
1. Ideal Customer Profiles
People buy wine for lots of different reasons. Some wine buyers are looking for a luxury experience, others are looking for no-frills fun.
Your goal is figuring out which segment of the wine drinking population is right for your brand—which customers will be most likely to appreciate and respond to what you have to offer.
To do this, create profiles for imaginary people who love drinking your wine. Use data from past sales, market research, industry reports, focus groups, online reviews—basically, anything that can help you understand who your customers are and what they want.
Make sure your ICPs include:
- Demographics (e.g., age, gender, location)
- Psychographics (e.g., lifestyle, values)
- Purchase Behaviours (e.g., online or in-store, frequency)
- Communication Preferences (e.g., email, social media)
The ICPs you create will guide all the branding you do going forward.
With Marzipan, it’s easy to segment your existing customers to quickly zero in on the traits and characteristics that connect them. Just click the Customers tab and browse through all your data points from a central location.
2. Pin Down a Brand Heart
Beneath all the aesthetics—the fonts, illustrations, product photos, and descriptions—is your brand heart. This needs to form the foundation of your brand, because without it people have nothing to latch onto.
As we mentioned earlier, your brand heart includes four elements:
- Purpose: What is the purpose of your brand?
- Vision: What is the long-term goal of your brand?
- Mission: How will you go about achieving your vision?
- Value: What is it that guides your brand's decision-making process?
Take your time answering these questions and turn them into an internal document that you can use as a reference when you create your messaging and visuals.
3. Flesh Out Your Verbal Identity
Once you've defined your brand heart, it's time to create a verbal identity. This step needs to come before you create any visuals, because your verbal identity will inform the look and feel of your brand.
This is actually a two-step process in-of-itself:
3.1 Brand Essence
Your brand essence is made up of three core elements:
- Personality: What human traits do you want to be associated with your brand (e.g., playful and light-hearted)?
- Voice: How do you want your brand to communicate with people (e.g., sarcastic jokes)? This is heavily influenced b our brand personality.
- Tone: What feeling(s) should your communication evoke (e.g., optimistic, inviting, bold)? Aim for 3–4 adjectives here—your voice will remain constant throughout your communications, but your tone will shift with contexts.
3.2 Messaging Strategy
Now, use your brand heart and essence to create a messaging strategy. This should start with a value proposition—a short, to-the-point statement about what you offer and why your customers should care.
California-based DTC wine brand Bev has a great value proposition that highlights their passion for great, natural wines and empowering women.
From there, create:
- A tagline: a short, snappy sentence that sums up your value proposition. For Bev, that's “Made By Chicks”.
- Messaging pillars: a handful of topics and stories that capture what makes your brand unique and captivating. Bev's messaging pillars centre around topics like making drinking culture more inclusive and empowering women in wine.
Before you move on to the visuals, be sure to document your value proposition, tagline, and messaging pillars for future reference. This will help keep your brand messaging consistent across different channels.
4. Create Visuals That Resonate
Now it's finally time for the flashy stuff—visuals.
If you've been thorough with the steps leading up to this one, your visuals will be much easier to create. All you'll need to do is find a way of expressing your brand heart and messaging in visual elements, such as:
- Logo: your logo should be simple and timeless, but also evoke the feeling of your brand. Bev's is just a stylised set of letters.
- Colour palette: use a few colours to create a cohesive theme across all your visual elements. Stick to 2–3 main colours and 1–2 accent colours. Coolors is a great resource for experimenting with different colour pallets.
- Fonts: choose two fonts for your brand to start out—one for headlines and another one for body copy. If you're looking for pairing that work well, give Fontjoy a try.
- Photography and illustrations: pick photos and illustrations that capture the essence of your brand. Stick to a few styles that you can use consistently across different platforms.
This is very much a common sense process. If your brand personality is serious and sophisticated, you'll want to steer clear of clashing colours and funny illustrations. On the other hand, if your brand is quirky and fun, you can feel free to experiment with more daring visuals.
5. Put It All Together
At this point, you should have all the pieces of the puzzle ready to go. It's time to put them all together into a comprehensive brand guide.
Your brand guide is a document that explains exactly how to use your brand elements (i.e., messaging, logo, colours, fonts, photography & illustrations, etc.). It should be comprehensive and give clear guidelines for usage.
Once you've finished your brand guide, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Your work is done, and it's time to start building on top of it.
Marzipan makes that part easier than ever before. You can generate more sales, build better relationships with your customers, and take control of your DTC wine business with a suite of tools that includes:
- Inventory & Order Management
- Promotions & Discounts
Plus, Marzipan integrates with any website, making it easy to get up and running quickly.