Two of South Africa’s iconic brands recently passed through the double gauntlet of Covid-19-related market disruptions and a major brand change. Van Loveren and Nederburg introduced new logos and labels during the past year. Presenting a new face to the world while maintaining continuity requires meticulous planning – and nerves of steel.
For Van Loveren, rebranding was a logical step after increasing their quality, vineyard management and capacity across different terroirs and wineries. Their 40-year anniversary provided a perfect opportunity. It was a gruelling 18 month long process of a core team of five working with the marketing consultant and designer. “They first had to understand our business and stories, before moving to the brand essence and design phase,” explains MD Phillip Retief.
Apart from getting final sign-off on the first labels, the largest challenge was stock management. “On the one hand you want to move at speed and at the right time, but on the other you don’t want to be too early with one variant against the others, or write off significant amounts of stock. Clearing shelves with current packaging is a real challenge.”
Van Loveren’s changes weren’t merely cosmetic. They mirror an internal gear shift and provide a better reflection of Van Loveren’s rightful position in the market. “Over time, the way we manage our vineyards and the attention in the winery has improved and we needed to reflect this in our brand positioning,” says Phillip.
With its newly bolstered brand and visual flair, it now falls to the sales and marketing team to ramp up communication. “Our messaging is as important as our communication. It’s also a continuous process and not something you put to bed within a month.”
Van Loveren’s consumers are important stakeholders of the brand, and Phillip reports buy-in has been very positive. The new branding also promises to open new doors. “We believe we will attract another consumer [segment] as part of the change.”
Nederburg is a globally recognised brand, as confirmed again this year with its placement in The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands top 50 list by Drinks International. “This means our approach caters for a worldwide base of wine consumers, wherever they are in their wine appreciation journey,” says marketing manager Jackie Olivier. “The pressure is always on to sustain and amplify our pre-eminent position and pay tribute to our long-standing history, while meeting changing buying and consumption trends.”
Nederburg’s comprehensive revamp includes a pack makeover, improvements in wine styling and new advertising and promotions. “Ongoing communication, both internally and externally, is crucial throughout the rebranding process,” says Jackie. “Timing is another major consideration, keeping in mind that old-look stock needs to sell out to enable the revamped bottles to filter into the market – be it local or international, off- or on-consumption. And then of course, one needs effective and exciting marketing communications to introduce the new look and reassure consumers.”
The main challenge was to be distinctive on shelves in their various markets. “We worked closely with Vollherbst Labels in Germany and Bravo in South Africa in bringing the new look to life, keeping simplicity and sophistication in mind at all times,” says Jackie. “The process involved a deep-dive into our own brand history, interrogating the various brand revamps over the years. This was done to ensure we stay true to the brand and its pedigree, while simplifying the label yet still immediately recognisable as Nederburg.”
The result is a refreshed, more contemporary look that emphasises the brand’s recognisable colours of red, black and gold. “We maintained continuity by keeping some elements intact and evolving others. The overall effect is one of modernity and precision.”
The Covid-19 pandemic had serious implications for the roll-out, since alcohol bans slowed the movement of stock through the supply chain. “Our trade partners couldn’t sell our current stock fast enough to make way for our new-look wines. Planned launches had to be cancelled or postponed, so our implementation plan suffered quite a bit.”
But a scheduled line-up of influencers, in-store, on-consumption and digital activations ensures the changes won’t go unnoticed. The campaign is aimed at sparking curiosity about South African wine’s rich history among a new generation of wine lovers. “Our consumer base is not changing drastically, but rather evolving,” says Jackie,
But the biggest changes will be seen in Nederburg’s super-premium Heritage Heroes collection, which launches later this year. This includes The Anchorman Chenin Blanc which is partially fermented in amphorae and made from a combination of Certified Heritage vines and Swartland fruit. “Expect to see more equally surprising new wines from us in the future.”
According to Jackie, the secret to staying relevant, interesting and exciting for well over two centuries is ongoing self-reflection. As the saying goes, brands that look after themselves will be looked after by their consumers.