Brand & Advertising

Telling the story of firsts with Firstleaf

Written by Michael Vromans on 28, Math 2022

Imagine yourself in the wine aisle trying to pick a bottle of wine for the dinner party you’re hosting. There are different varieties from sparkling to rosé and white to red, and over a hundred bottles to choose from. Definitely not an easy pick. Now flip this scenario around, and imagine how difficult it must be for a wine brand to attract your attention. 

There are over 10,000 different varieties of wine grapes, and many more wines bottled. Only in Napa Valley, California there are over 1500 registered wineries. To survive and flourish in such a fierce industry, a strong brand is necessary.  

Based in California, Firstleaf is a subscription-based wine club that uses disruptive technology to tailor wines to customers’ palettes. Firstleaf knew they had to increase their brand awareness to grow their brand. They chose TV commercials (TVC) as the medium to expand their reach and after a successful pitch, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work. 

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A strong brand foundation

Firstleaf is a bold, curious, and playful brand that targets young people who are willing to spend an extra buck on wine exploration. However their branding didn’t reflect their true nature and wasn’t resonating with their target audience. We needed to work on that first.

Before launching any type of successful marketing campaign, you need to get your branding right. The words of Andrew Grant couldn’t ring more true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” With a strong brand foundation, you can truly show who you are as a brand, differentiate yourself from your competitors, and create long-lasting connections with your customers. 

We started with a deep dive into the wine industry, and researched trends, Firstleaf’s competitors, and target audience. Based on our insights, we solidified the brand values and personality, and moved on to refreshing the visual identity.

Of the two concepts we developed, one was to revolutionize the brand with a completely new look, while the other was focused on evolving the existing brand further. Firstleaf wanted to keep some of their iconic brand elements. This meant fine-tuning the current brand and giving Firstleaf a more contemporary look and feel that highlights their curious, fun, and bold nature.

The first brand element on our radar was Firstleaf’s logomark, six dots in the form of a grape, that also represents their disruptive technology. We increased the size of the logomark to make it stand out. To demonstrate Firstleaf’s passionately curious character and spark a sense of wonder, we positioned it on the edge of marketing assets, and displayed only a part of it. Next, we made the color palette more vibrant to show Firstleaf’s playful side. Slight tweaks were made to the typography to bring out the boldness and wisdom of the brand.

One way to illustrate brand personality is through photography, and high-quality photos are key. We divided Firstleaf’s photography into three categories: Firstleaf moments, composition with product, and pure product, and added color, lighting, and composition principles to the brand guide to ensure consistency. The Firstleaf moments category is where they can go all out and communicate their personality. 

After the brand refresh was complete, we designed leaflets and social media posts, and applied the new branding on their wine boxes. Packaging is an important part of Firstleaf’s branding since it’s the first thing customers see when they receive a delivery. We used the logomark and created a pattern for a distinctive look that stands out in a sea of delivery boxes. 

It was great to see the refreshed branding come alive on packaging and social media. Now that the foundation was laid, we were ready to get started on the TVC campaign.

The power of storytelling

Driving brand awareness is one challenge, leaving a memorable impression is another. Storytelling is a powerful way to get your message across, connect with your target audience, and humanize your brand. We knew we had to go beyond the ‘buy 6 bottles for $’ type of commercial to capture the hearts and minds of Firstleaf’s target audience. We “just” needed to find a great story to tell. 

Tinkering with the brand name eventually led us to the idea of celebrating firsts. Firsts are special and memorable. I’m sure you can still remember your first love, your first home after you moved out of your parents’ house, or your first job. That’s why we wanted to tell the story and magic of first experiences, and build a connection between Firstleaf and the younger generation they were trying to reach. 

The story is told through the eyes of a young couple to make it relatable for Firstleaf’s target audience. In the 30-second commercial, the viewer is taken on a journey and experiences the couple’s first eye contact, first kiss, first vacation, and first home together. All these special moments are celebrated over a glass of wine and reflect Firstleaf’s tagline “A first in every box”.

The holiday season is big in the States, people get together with their families and clink their glasses to better days. Which made us think, what about our couple’s first holiday together? The timing was right and we saw an opportunity to make a holiday version of the commercial too. It was an unmissable chance to make Firstleaf part of this happy moment in life.

It was rewarding to see our hard work for Firstleaf on national TV, definitely a proud moment. Count the positive responses and increased visibility on top and you’ve got a successful awareness campaign.

“Execution is the only strategy that a consumer sees. DPDK demonstrated their ability to build equity in the Firstleaf name through emotive storytelling that seamlessly ties back to our brand benefits. The most effective advertising is steeped in how a brand makes you feel. We’re confident that our new campaign will leave people smiling while generating awareness of Firstleaf in a meaningful way.”- Patty Montagno, Head of Brand and Creative at Firstleaf

In the end, building an emotional connection humanizes your brand and creates ever-more valuable customers. To build strong relationships, we need to feel an emotional bond. Invoking the right emotions is key, just like we did for Firstleaf. And fair to say that as a result, there are less people worrying about which wine to pick for their dinner parties.

Michael Vromans
Chief Creative Officer

Michael Vromans

Chief Creative Officer

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