The idea: When you’re about to sell an ultra-premium or luxury vodka at a suggested price point of $49.99 a bottle, you’re going to want people to notice it. So, package design seemed like a worthwhile marketing investment for Old Nassau Imports’ Double Cross vodka, which began selling in New York and New Jersey last September. “Some brands have superior quality but an average package, so they don’t get the attention they deserve,” said Devin Wilson, vp-marketing and brand development for the New York-based brand. “If you’re going to sell a $50 bottle of vodka, it better [perform] on all levels.”
The inspiration: The “double” dynamic of old meets new was the directive for the design firm, Capsule, which is based in Minneapolis. “The equity is in the name Double Cross, [which represents] two polar opposites,” explained Brian Adducci, creative principal. The vodka market is cluttered, even in the $40-$60 ultra-premium space. “We wanted the quality of the vodka, the uniqueness of the packaging and the richness of the story to be superior,” Wilson said. The quality vodka and rich story components he covered: Double Cross was perfected by Dr. Jan Krak in the 1970s in a 13th-century Slovakian village. Inspired by the ancient spirit of Slovakia while produced in a state-of-the-art facility, Double Cross already embodied the perfect blend of ancient and modern. To play up these contrasting elements in design, the bottle was given a modern minimalist square shape and logo along with heritage-invoking flourishes, such as a Slovak coat of arms, inscribed poetry, currency and a paper seal.
How it was created: The idea was create first, calculate later. “Most clients come to us with a budget,” Adducci said. “They wanted an iconic design, so we had complete freedom. ‘Don’t even think of the cost—we’ll reel you back in,’ they said. It was a great way to create a brand personality.”
Results: The square bottle will roll out nationally. “Look at the Coke bottle and the Absolut bottle,” Wilson said. “We feel the pose our bottle strikes on shelf will become iconic over time.”
I’ll drink to that: As 3-D. renderings show, no design idea was left unexplored. Some were impossible to produce, glass companies said. In the end, “We went with a square shape because it interrupts our sense of what a bottle is—round with a long neck,” Wilson said.
THE FINAL DESIGN
Bottle rocks it: Capsule looked to create “moments of engagement” that consumers would discover in its bottle design. These included the laser-engraved lid logo, custom calligraphy, 10th-century Slovakian poems, even the heavy weight of the bottle top. “People pulled the [original] cap off, and it didn’t feel luxurious,” Wilson said. “It probably took a month to get it perfect.” (The solution? Using weighted aluminum.)