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CASE STUDY

THE WINERY AT WOLF CREEK

BRIEF

In its fourth decade in operation and approaching twenty years since Andy and Deanna Troutman purchased The Winery at Wolf Creek, and after a major setback in the form of a gas explosion that destroyed half the winery building (including offices, rental space, barrel storage, and most of the production space), it was time to take stock, rebuild, and plan for the future. The fire that nearly cost the owner his life turned into an opportunity to reinvent the Wolf Creek brand, expand production capacity, create new event spaces, and reach out to a broader audience.

Wolf Creek logo
Wolf Creek Great Room bar photo

OUTCOMES

  • A redesigned logo package, leveraging the iconic name of the property
  • An extensible and varied, yet cohesive and unified, brand aesthetic that (literally) draws from the natural beauty and charm of the property
  • A collateral package that outfits The Winery at Wolf Creek with the tools they need to successfully attract and serve their expanded range of clientele
  • A more playful suite of label designs to attract the interest of customers in the tasting room as well as on store shelves
  • A carefully evolved identity that serves as a foundation for the next twenty years of business
Wolf Creek stationery photo
Wolf Creek business cards photo
Wolf Creek Great Room collateral

BRAND

The Winery at Wolf Creek brand had previously been updated in 2002, when the Troutmans purchased the winery and vineyards, and modestly refreshed again in 2008. While the framework of the brand was still solid, it needed more than another coat of paint this time around. After some soul searching discussions and digging into what was left of the winery’s archives after the fire, we took the counterintuitive approach of going back to the very roots of the brand. The original owners had chosen the property for its location atop a wooded hillside overlooking a reservoir fed by Wolf Creek. The beautiful natural setting had attracted customers from the very beginning, and the property and surrounding landscape was still a draw and a source of pride for the Troutmans. We took high resolution photos of textures around the property — sandstone boulders, weathered barn siding, rough sawn planks — and created digital versions we could use as graphic elements. The color palette was also influenced by the surroundings, pulling from different grape varieties, the shifting colors of the waters, the distressed and aging barrels. For the primary logo, we extrapolated a running wolf from one of the original logos and streamlined and stylized it. The existing paw print mark was redrawn to match the style of the new wolf logo. Even the type was chosen, however subtly, to evoke a canine presence. And finally, the die-cut shapes of the new labels combine geometric and organic shapes, much like the buildings set into the hillside surrounded by rocky outcrops. For the proprietary line of “named” wines, we created new collage artwork that was in line with previous incarnations of these popular wines.

Wolf Creek Estate bottles
Wolf Creek Proprietary bottles
Wolf Creek Varietal bottles
Wolf Creek Original Sin artwork
Wolf Creek Redemption artwork
Wolf Creek White Lies artwork
Wolf Creek Nouveau bottle

DIGITAL

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” After a thorough audit of their existing website, we concluded that it wasn’t really broken. Most complaints centered around slowness and difficulty in updating certain sections of the site. So we did little fixes, smoothing out code here, optimizing images there, generally making the site feel more streamlined. We brought page load times down significantly. We also set up more robust analytics and tracking on the site to gather information on customer use to inform our planned rebuild of the website in 2020.

A targeted digital ad campaign is planned for early 2020 to reach out to audiences outside the established geographical area, with the goal of making Wolf Creek one of the premier destinations in Northeast Ohio.

ABOVE AND BEYOND

The entryway to the new rental space features a floor-to-ceiling wall made of old barrel staves, the perfect place for a piece of branded signage, but with the sign budget already tight, we couldn’t let a sign shop go crazy. So we went a little crazy ourselves. We sourced a local fabricator who could laser-cut a 4-foot wolf out of steel. We had the new logotype cut out of the middle of the wolf silhouette, and then had the whole piece powder coated. We built our own LED light box to illuminate the sign, and when everything was assembled, we had a stunning piece of custom signage.

Wolf Creek wolf sign

OKTHX stepped up to the challenge of recreating our winery brand while maintaining the considerable equity we’ve worked so hard to build over the years. They’ve been very good about working within our industry constraints and with rolling out the new brand on a timeline that makes sense for us.

CONCLUSIONS

Some of our earliest feedback on the new branding came from staff members who saw initial mockups of logos on various merchandise and apparel items. They were excited about it and were looking forward to showing off and explaining the new identity to customers. A few just wanted t-shirts with the new wolf design (who doesn’t love cool t-shirts?). The actual brand rollout has been paced, more of a marathon than a sprint. Customers are seeing the identity in the form of rack cards, branded glassware, menus, and signage. Reaction to date has been largely positive. The real test will be when new wine labels begin to be released in early 2020, both in the tasting room and on store shelves throughout Ohio, along with the introduction of a new website and ad campaign.