Reconnecting past and present: the story behind Aldeia Velha renovation.

Everybody loves “innovation” but “renovation” is also an important side of brand management. Read here how we worked with Volta Studio to give a new life to Portuguese icon of good memories, the Aldeia Velha brandy.

Why renovate brands?

In packaging renovation projects, one easily looks down at the incumbent design, which feels out of date and… ugly! But, if it is so bad, how come this design existed on the first place and how did the brand manage to grow so big? Did people in the past have bad taste?

Of course not, but to appreciate aesthetics, we benchmark with our surroundings, which evolve constantly driven by fashion, cultural changes or trends… So if a brand does not refresh its appearance regularly, it will look out of date. Think of the Fiat 500, a fantastic icon of 60’s, which boosted Fiat fortunes after a wonderful renovation in 2007. And yet, it feels strangely familiar…

Key aspects in Brand Renovation

Before any design starts, a renovation project must clarify 3 important aspects:

  1. Brand identity components: understanding the origin, stories and semiotics. Usually the nature of these elements will not change but can receive aesthetic updates. For Aldeia Velha, the shades of green, small bottle, oval casks or stencil typeface were clear identity elements.
  2. Brand past emotional offering and occasions: unless there is a repositioning, these should not change and but can be clarified. For Aldeia Velha, the brand clearly played and plays in friendly and releaxed moments where friends share good times and good stories. This need was true in the 70’s and still is today !
  3. Current cultural reference: this means exploring the style to give the brand. Baroque? Art Nouveau ? Art Déco… ? For Aldeia Velha, the adopted frame was Modern Classicism style. This step is key as it expresses the brand tone and facilities the desired emotional messaging.

Investigation and preservation

To gather these elements, an important investigation work was carried out your via desk research and interviews with existing and past managers who revealed untold stories about of the origin of the brand, the mindset of the different owners or rationale behind certain decisions.

Some brands have rich and well curated archives, but I think this is rare. For Aldeia Velha, little was kept and capturing the stories with current and former collaborators was key. For instance, we discovered that Aldeia Velha cask ageing was a way to offer a credible and more accessible response imported Scotch whisky in the 70’s… In other words, if you run a renovation project, do cherish the past and what it can teach, before it goes into oblivion.

Aldeia Velha today

Armed with these elements (and of course the appropriate competition analysis), a design brief was prepared with the brand information, but also a series of strutural and graphic “from – to” triggers to meet the overall design objectives : refresh and bring value.

The new bottle, while maintaining strong shoulders and a recognizable shape like its predecessor, now presents a contemporary look, with a slightly tinted glass and marked straight lines. The main label pays homage to the original barrels, adopting an oval silhouette with straight sides that mirror the shape of the new bottle.

A new typography was adopted, based on the robust original stencil typography, but with more elegant and timeless lines. The familiar green of the original bottle now tinges the label, appearing in the typography and frame, in a new, more premium and sophisticated tone, accentuated by golden finishes. As the foundation for the core variant were laid out, an aged grape brandy variant was developped, this time with warmer colour tones.

And one more thing…

As we write these lines, the refreshed Aldeia Velha is now rolling out and started reconnecting with its audience through simple and lovely vignettes around the theme “it was better before” and a simple signature : “Bons Tempos”, i.e. good times.

This prooves that simple but well thought positonings are inspiring guidelines for product development AND communication. And if you want to know how to make cost effective communications, drop the key visual and think “campaigns”. Last but not least, ideas can be great, but they need a good team, and this project was blessed by Volta Studio profesionalism and Destilaria Portuguesa’s trust.

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