Barra Atlantic Gin
The Isle of Barra Distillers Co. approached D8 to create a premium but accessible brand that would not simply be ‘another Island gin’.
“We knew that there was a real drive and authentic purpose behind the company that people would fall in love with.” says Steven Bonner, design director at D8. He took the time to tell us a little more about the thinking behind the design.
“The owner, Michael Morrison, is a craftsman born and bred on Barra, and used his skills to create beautiful wooden pieces for other people in the drinks industry before deciding he’d like to make spirits himself. His dedication and passion for working with natural materials led him to experiment with the blending of ingredients and botanicals from his native home, and he harvested carrageen seaweed from its shores to use as the base for a new gin. While he had a few ideas about where the brand could go, Michael was adamant that this carrageen should be an important part of the story and packaging.”
“Although we spent time exploring different concepts, our thoughts kept returning to how the brand felt like it was based around the perfect blend of ingredients, the local kelp, the people behind the company, their skills and how this small archipelago threw them all together.
As such, nothing felt more appropriate than simply naming the brand after the island. As a bar call, Barra is simple and memorable, and adding ‘Atlantic Gin’ gives a sense of how this small island on the extreme western edge of Europe is the gateway to the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.
Once we had the seed of the idea, we looked at how we could use the theme of ‘blends’ literally by exploring the possibility of creating a bespoke paper from the carrageen or extracting colour from it to use as ink, before we discovered that it is used as a floating agent in the art of paper marbling. By adding it to the water, it allows the paint to float on top without mixing with it so the designs can be applied to paper directly. This paired beautifully with our core concept and Michael’s love for skilled craft, so we commissioned a number of original patterns from Jemma Lewis, a talented marbler who runs her own full time studio. We took our colour palette from the Barra landscape and briefed Jemma to create patterns that would evoke its shores, and how the water behaves when swirling around the natural carrageen growing there. This way, we could form a physical link between the product and its packaging.
We knew we wanted this unique pattern to be the focal point of the brand but also that it needed strong supporting assets so we got to work on a brand logotype that would feel as fluid as the pattern itself, and secondary marks that reflected the product’s premium quality, as well as the Isle of Barra. We positioned it with the line ‘Island Born, Fearless Spirit’ to help convey Michael’s adventurous nature, his pride in his home and his ambition. When pulled together, all these elements formed the backbone of our new brand and packaging.”
“This is a brand based upon a desire to give the best of Barra to the rest of the world, and it deserves the best presentation, so we extended the blend concept into the production by partnering with MCC for print, and GF Smith who helped us use Colorplan in a new, innovative way. MCC were exactly what we needed from a print partner and found some clever ways to give depth to the pattern by printing a silver foil followed by a sequence of semi-opaque whites underneath the marbling that shimmer and give the illusion of depth – like looking into a silvery rock pool on Barra’s shores. We matched the blue of the label to the GF Smith Imperial Blue so we could use the paper itself as our base colour on the outer packaging, and matched a pinstriped emboss to Colorplan’s ‘Cord’ embossing option, further accentuating the link between the two pieces. We also printed a tissue stock with the marbled pattern and wrap each bottle in this before inserting it into the tube to enhance the unwrapping experience.
Finally, along with various brand assets, we designed and built the company’s website to give people a chance to learn more about the brand and also buy their own bottle, as well as find their nearest stockist. To us, this is just the beginning and we’re looking forward to helping the Isle of Barra Distillers Co. as they grow.”