Being successful in the limited and controlled wine business makes us a target for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start their own wine labels. Many new producers think that all it takes to be a success is a compelling label, a cute catch phrase, and a great bottle of wine. Good beginning, but success requires a level of respect for the marketplace with all its rules, quirks and dysfunctionalities. Success requires very hard work at store level. Success also requires respect for the competitive noise produced by a hundred labels also vying for attention, right next to yours.
One new brand, “Reckless Love,” with its eye-catching mustache logo and unusual name recently grabbed our attention. Regardless of what we think of the message, it’s eye-catching, amusing, and somewhat radical label is showing promise in a crowded wine market. In addition to this award-winning red blend, Rebel Coast Winery of Paso Robles California, also produces an upscale white blend. As colorful as its proprietors are with their cowboy hats, boots, mustaches, and controversial bumper stickers, they have achieved some very sophisticated branding:
- Point of Sale. You can do all the social media you want and all the advertising too, but where the customer, the product, the money, and the decision all come together is at the point of sale. That’s why those little signs under the bottles are so effective at telling you their flavor, food pairings, awards and endorsements. But they have to be put up by someone from the winery and they get torn down just as fast by the shoppers, store clerks, and the competition. One piece of point-of-sale material that always gets to the shelf and stays there is the label itself. That’s where Reckless Love really distinguishes itself. Its label is painted on the bottle with white, ¾ inch high stencil letters, evenly spaced over the entirety of their bottle face. The words are stacked and spell out “RECKLESS” above a silhouette of a mustache, and under that “LOVE.” The red wine bottle reads black, so the white painted lettering and mustache stands out like a road sign – causing the label to jump off the shelf, clearly distinguishing itself from the fray.
- Fun Theme. The back label is also painted white on “black” glass and carries a fun and romantic message that celebrates love at first sight and recalls the times when we may have let our hearts overrule our heads. At first you may think this is geared to folks in the 21-30 age bracket. But upon closer inspection, the $30 price on the red blend may be more affordable to a slightly older, more conservative consumer who may feel younger recalling the carefree days of impetuous youth. If the name and the theme aren’t enough to grab your attention, the glow in the dark bottle surely will!
- Customer Service. The Rebel Coast Winery gang is not sitting on their haunches expecting their theme and label to carry them – far from it. Their entire organization is focused on customer service with extensive store visits and merchandising. This conventional but effective approach assures that where Reckless Love is placed, it moves. The sober realization that their success comes down to personal relationships makes us think this wild brand has a good chance of success.
Picasso disrupted the art world with paintings that no one had ever seen before, but he did it in a conventional way by painting them on canvas in a rectangle designed to hang on a wall. As unconventional as they are, Rebel Coast is respectful of convention. We are falling for Reckless Love!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) & Shelf Smarts courses to help consumer product brand builders achieve success. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular business site at www.thebarefootspirit.com.
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