Japanese sake brand Akashi-Tai has revealed a new brand identity as it targets growth in Europe and North America.
The new design, which was created by Cowan London, aims to convey the artisan nature of Akashi-Tai, which is brewed in small batches using traditional methods, and positions the brand as a premium player.
Last week Cowan London won best new packaging design at the International Beverage Awards held at Drink Japan.
The challenge was to design for two diverse markets with different cultures, codes and customers, ensuring the brand remained credible in Japan, whilst engaging new audiences in emerging western markets.
Cowan initially worked with the brand team at Akashi Sake Brewery to help them define the proposition, brand essence and brand story, to prepare for launch in the US and Germany.
Elizabeth Finn, managing director of Cowan London, said: “Creating sake packaging was a true privilege. It’s very rare for a design agency outside Japan to be given that honour, but with our team’s extensive experience in alcohol branding, and our four offices in Asia, we were ideally placed to help Akashi-Tai realise its vision of bringing sake to the wider world. It was wonderful to see our work gain this recognition at the International Beverage Awards.”
A sea bream, or tai, has always been Akashi-Tai’s brand symbol, as it embodies the attributes the brewery aspires to: strength, resilience and curiosity. Cowan said that creating a new execution of the sea bream, one that would be distinctive to Akashi-Tai and reflect the brand story, was fundamental to the new design.
Cowan London creative director Samantha Dumont said: “We needed to ensure that Akashi-Tai remained highly credible in Japan, whilst appealing, in a less expected way, to an increasing number of intrigued western consumers.
“It seemed natural that the tai icon and kanji calligraphy should take centre stage on the label, but once we understood the nuances of Japanese symbolism and the construct of Japanese design, it was interesting to discover that we had to un-learn some of the usual graphic design rules that we apply in the UK.”
The brand team at Akashi-Tai added: “The new design perfectly balances Japanese purity with an iconic and visually powerful aesthetic that will appeal to the western eye, whilst at the same time retaining unquestioned traditional credibility in the domestic market. The brand is now in a perfect position for growth.”
The five variants now feature a unified design. A neck label and frosted glass aim to bring to life the more premium sakes, and colour coding across variants helps customers understand and explore the different sake choices across the range.
The sakes retail from £21 for Honjozo Tokubetsu (720ml) to around £50 for the high-end Junmai Diagingo (720ml).
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019