SomeOne has worked with illustrator and craftsman Christopher Wormell to create a new symbol for Glenlivet whisky, replacing the brand's thistle marque with a linocut depicting the river that flows through its estate.
Founded in 1824, Glenlivet is apparently the second biggest selling single malt in the world and the biggest selling in the US. The brand has used a thistle marque for the past 50 years but with its global export business growing, felt it needed something more distinctive.
The new marque, pictured top, depicts a packhorse bridge over the River Livet, which flows through Glenlivet’s distillery estate in Northeast Scotland and is the water source for the drink (the whisky's Gaelic name is also a reference to the river, translating as the valley through which the Livet flows). The bridge was apparently used by bootleggers to smuggle whisky from the estate in the 19th century, and is pictured within a perfect circle above the phrase 'Estd. 1824'.
Glenlivet's previous logo
David Law, co-founder of SomeOne, says the marque aims to better represent Glenlivet’s heritage and location “while giving it a more contemporary edge.”
“The growth in the whisky market globally has been stratospheric, and Glenlivet wanted a signifier that would be understood in different markets, from China to the US. A thistle is a symbol of Scotland, but it’s very generic and doesn’t necessarily translate globally,” he explains.
The marque was produced in linocut by Christopher Wormell, who worked from preparatory sketches drawn up by senior designer Tom Myers. It has already been applied to Glenlivet's website and will be rolled out across packaging and branding over the next few months.
“We’ve worked with Christopher a few times and thought he’d be perfect for this. We did some sketch work with him in mind, got it to look roughly how we wanted, then asked him to refine and finesse it. Chris works in wood cut as well as linocut, but we chose linocut [for the marque] as it’s a slightly quicker process, and we knew we’d have to make several small adjustments and tweaks to make sure it would work in small and large scale,” says Law.
“The refinements mainly consisted of bringing a little more finesse and tonal balance to the image, so that it worked a little more illustrative-ly than merely as a flat graphic symbol,” says Wormell.
“I worked on quite a few versions of the image at the sketch stage, between five and ten I think, mainly trying to get that tonal balance right and the curve of the bridge – it needed to mirror the circle of the icon, yet maintain an illustrative perspective. Once the sketch was just about there I cut the image on a lino block, converting all shapes and textures into solid black and white,” he adds.
Wormell has produced some beautiful linocut and wood cut work in his career, including editorial illustrations and artwork for packaging, as well as a series of children’s books about animals. "I've been making linocuts for many, many years - for most of my life," he says. "Drawing with a lino cutting tool feels natural to me; making white lines on a black ground and thinking in terms of solid blacks and bright whites...these are the things that make [it] the perfect medium for simple, iconic imagery," he adds.
Glenlivet's packaging has also been streamlined, with a new deep purple introduced on boxes and gift bags. “There was a lot of ornamentation in previous iterations, we wanted to strip it back a bit and focus on the signifier,” adds Law. The brand font and typeface, however, will remain the same.
With new premium offerings such as Haig Club aiming to target younger consumers, and new distilleries opening up across England and Scotland in response to growing demand for whisky abroad (growth slowed last year, but the value of Scotch has risen over 80 percent in the past decade), it's no surprise long-established distilleries are keen to revise their identity and packaging. (Glenlivet is one of several Scotch whisky brands to update its identity, following Glenfiddich last year, Laphroaig in 2013 and Chivas in late 2012).
In global markets in particular, where audiences may be less familiar with heritage brands, older names need to reinforce their history while creating an upmarket look that will appeal to both seasoned drinkers and a growing younger market.
Glenlivet's new marque has a handcrafted, historical feel, but is detailed and streamlined enough to work on a range of applications, while referencing the story of the product's origins. It’s not as recognisably 'Scottish' as the previous logo, and global audiences are unlikely to immediately understand the significance of the bridge and river, but it does have a more contemporary feel and gives Glenlivet a unique, distinctive symbol instead of a national one that any Scottish brand could adopt. It's also nice to see a new marque created using traditional techniques, and works well on the new two-colour boxes.