The Back Label – More than an Afterthought

Posted by on November 05, 2011 in eNewsletter | 0 comments

It’s true, the back label of a wine bottle requires certain mandatory information – but is that all it should be used for? There is only so much label space on a bottle and the back label is an often-overlooked resource for reaching wine buyers.

What options are available for using this valuable label real estate? We asked several experts for their take on this question. Jan Wolfinger of Jan Wolfinger Graphic Design, suggests that while label content is always going to vary based on a client’s needs, “a back label tends to communicate something about the wine or the brand along with contact information and mandatory items (such as a bottlers statement and government warning). Bar codes and QR codes are useful additions,” she added, “Unless they are well designed, back labels can get cluttered quickly so I like to keep text to a minimum.”

QR codes (which sometimes appear as a square, unusual bar code) are a terrific way to connect with a technologically knowledgeable demographic. Jan added, “They’re a great way to get savvy Smart Phone users directed to your website to view longer wine notes and pages of your website.”

Sara Nelson of Sara Nelson Design also likes the use of back label QR codes, but she cautions that it isn’t enough to simply put one on the label. “Just sending people to your website isn’t enough. You’ve got to have a truly enticing reason to motivate people to scan the darn thing.” Sara added, “Offer something to get them to care about the content, a link to a recipe, a good food pairing or perhaps a discount on their next purchase. These are offers that might entice them to your site”.

When considering what to add or omit from a back label, available space and price point are considerations. At a higher price point, Jan’s clients tend to prefer more technical information about the wine and less marketing copy. Where it will be sold is also an important consideration. If the wine is strictly going to be a hand-sale out of a tasting room, the text does not have to communicate as much about the product because that information is readily available from either the tasting room staff or from the atmosphere of the winery, itself. If sold in retail environment, a bit more information on the label may be necessary.

While Sara is not a fan of too much content or copy that’s too small to read in a dimly lit restaurant, she does add it when appropriate. “The back label is a good spot to explain the meaning of an unusual brand name or the significance of the person the wine is named after,” explained Sara. While Jan prefers an uncluttered look, she feels that back labels with innovative designs have their place. “Printing that is applied to the adhesive side of the label can create a fun look,” says Jan. “I have seen this approach on white wines that are bottled in a flint glass. The image projects to the front of the bottle and can really add interest”. When asked what she likes to see that adds interest to a back label, Sara stated she is a fan of the little tear-off strips or tabs that let people easily keep a portion of the label as a reminder of a bottle of wine they enjoyed.

She also encourages clients to harmonize the front and back labels. “Avoid the mistake of creating a back label with a design that is inconsistent with the attitude of the front label. If the front uses a fun design,” explained Sara, “don’t go for a serious back label, or vice versa.” She has one client in the mid-west who incorporates design elements from the front label to place a map for his winery on the back label. He also prints a small scale from “dry” to “sweet” with an indicator showing where on this scale, his wine falls.

Sara’s own research into what wine buyers prefer suggest, “Keep it readable! If its not readable, it doesn’t matter what it says. Make it memorable but if in doubt, keep it short and sweet.”

Sara Nelson
Sara Nelson Design

Jan Wolfinger
Jan Wolfinger Graphic Design, Inc.
805-466-3020 (phone & fax)

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