By Cassandra Balentine
Part 1 of 2
For many brands, first impression and customer loyalty matters. Marketers and brand owners understand the importance of this concept in regards to labels and packaging and put great thought into how to gain exposure and attract consumers with the right look.
Mount Diablo Distillery is a spirit company based in Antioch, CA. Dustin Sterlino, co-owner, understands that one way to stand out on the shelf is with an impressive looking—and feeling—product. Thinking outside of the box, Sterlino thought a textured label would add grip to bottles, bringing something new to the table.
His first prototype was painted sandpaper, which made him think of anti-slip skate tape. Ultimately, these surfaces would prove too abrasive for handling. He went to a few print providers with the concept, and one of them suggested Mactac’s StreetTRAX non-skid, grid-coated, pressure-sensitive adhesive film. The distillery’s artwork was printed directly on the film’s grid-coated surface and applied to liquor bottles as a textured label.
While typically utilized as a floor graphic, this solution proved to be ideal and the company’s patent-pending “Bartender’s/Tender’s Grip” trademark was born. As the name implies, the gripped label is designed to enhance a bartender’s grip on a bottle and reduce the number of bottles that unintentionally slip from their hands.
Currently, Mount Diablo Distillery is owned and operated by a team of four. The company is just getting started with the product stocked in a few CA stores and bars. With a small, invested group, the company is very hands on and always looking for efficient ways to operate.
When designing the prototype for its grip label, Sterlino says he worked with several printer providers in the Bay Area, but had difficulty finding a partner that could produce at a cost-effective rate. He realized it would be more cost effective to manage the printing in house.
Initially it looked at integrated print-and-cut solutions, but with such a thick media, there weren’t many options. Eventually it settled on a 54-inch HP Latex 315 wide format printer. In the beginning there were some difficulties with scratching the printheads, but with some custom modifications that involved edge guards eliminated those.
After the rolls of labels are printed, they are sent out and die cut by a third-party company. Sterlino admits sending out for cutting is a costly expense, but well worth it, as many of its labels have unique cuts. Once the labels are back in house, the distillery utilizes a combination of hand apply and machine techniques to wrap the finished labels around the bottles.
In addition to printing its labels, the distillery produces some marketing materials on the printer, saving the effort and cost of outsourcing this task.
The design process is also important. Sterlino does a lot of the design work with the help of a digital design partner out of Malaysia, Yellow Rhino Studio, that takes his concepts and bring them to fruition.
Custom for a Cause
One of the benefits of producing its own labels in house is the flexibility to do custom work. While it’s not cost effective for many projects just yet, Mount Diablo Distillery launched a special Cali Girl Vodka as a fundraiser for the Adventure Therapy Foundation (ATF).
ATF is a non-profit that works to establish breakthroughs in the emotional recovery of cancer. By fostering vulnerable relationships, it leads survivors to engage a purpose-filled life.
Bottles of the limited edition spirit featured a special pink label and $5 of each Cali Girl Vodka was donated to ATF.
Mount Diablo Distillery forges a unique niche in a saturated market. With pleasing designs and a tactile feel, one product can hit many senses for a lasting impression. By thinking outside of the box, its liquor bottles stand out on the shelf, where they can then impress with a high-quality taste.
Apr2021, Digital Output