Well, quite a lot actually although I sometimes think wines are named in a similar fashion to that of Native American babies – by a geographic landmark that is within sight when the baby (for ‘baby’, read ‘wine’) is born. As well as a propensity to name wines after something in or near the vineyard, we also tend to name them after ourselves or a creature/animal (this ‘critter’ phenomenon drove many a case of wine in the USA, Australian and UK markets).
If named after a local, well-known landmark based on the vineyard’s location, couldn’t this be limiting? Does it mean that if the winemaker is offered an exciting parcel of grapes from another region, they are snookered if they want to make and market it under their brand and therefore they miss an opportunity? It makes no sense to me to choose a well-known local landmark such as a mountain or river, and then put another region’s fruit in the bottle – and of course the fruit’s origin has to be declared on the front label so it can be confusing to the consumer. Many wineries set out to produce wine exclusively from their own region, but sometimes when other opportunities present themselves, the path of business changes and they need to be able to take advantage of that in a way that is compelling and attractive for the consumer – be they existing lovers of the brand, or just coming to it through this new opportunity. They perhaps need to think ahead and be prepared to diversify.
Calling a wine brand after your own name can also prove tricky but for different reasons. Many wines are named this way and while it is deemed to be the ultimate consumer guarantee of quality and pride – you have stamped your name on it – it can cause headaches. If you build a strong, attractive, viable brand and someone makes you an offer you can’t refuse, you give up control over ‘your name’ (because you’ve sold it) and the inevitable ‘restrictions on trade’ will mean you probably can’t use your name again in a similar way. If the quality of the wine diminishes, it still has your name all over it and the vast majority of wine lovers won’t know that you are no longer involved. Equally challenging is how you market your next project if you are restricted in how you use your own name.
Perhaps naming a wine brand before working through its proposition, point of difference and business plan is a bit like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. A name should generate a sense of expectation – should start the consumer on a consistent path of discovery and anticipation. It should be synonymous with the brand’s offering and make sense throughout all contact points – the styling, tone, colours and how the brand is promoted – its associations and above all, the story behind it should be genuine and have integrity.
Of course there are times when the very name itself is the inspiration for a brand – sometimes this makes the branding process easier as the name lends itself to a particular market proposition. This can be very exciting, but creators shouldn’t forget that first and foremost they have to have seen and understood the market segment they are aiming for.