With gin sales in the UK topping £2.6 bn, can design really persuade the consumer to buy more of your product? From unicorn tears to watercress botanicals – how can you get more market share?

The number of gin brands has surely reached saturation – although the market itself, globally, is still increasing. There are now over 500 UK gins and a further 6000+ being produced worldwide. With more and more products on shelves what convinces people to buy? And can the right branding and bottle design or labelling really make a difference?

The answer simply, is yes.

You know when a category has truly reached the masses when connoisseurs start to quiver at the sight of gins “enhanced” with floating glitter with allusions of ingredients laced with unicorn tears. Traditionalists have been seen leaving shopping aisles with heads in hands, emitting heavy sighs. But should we criticise? I met someone the other day who excitedly told me of their love of glittery unicorn tear gin mixed with plenty of lemonade – it’s apparently really pretty – as well as sickly sweet. There was not a single hint of irony in their discovery – and they were legal drinking age (just).

The fact is the creators and designers of any of the mythically led, sparkly products currently popping up, recognised how to introduce an existing trend to a new demographic. In a brief Google search I was able to find 12 different variations of “UK Unicorn” enhanced gin. Who knows, in a few years when they’ve grown up, they may well move onto a real London Dry and help the existing market continue to grow. The producers knew their market and their branding and bottle design has absolutely got them noticed and sales have followed. Whatever we may think.

How does it work for non-unicorns?

Non-unicorn gins absolutely need to capture their own story, know their audience, ignore what everyone else is doing and create the very best representation of their values, provenance, and botanicals. This can be created through the right branding: this includes everything from your logo, your name, your label design (if you choose one), the paper the label is printed on, the finishes applied, the bottle design, any necktags or show stopping stoppers – right through to your tone of voice. Every aspect of your product’s story can be communicated through all of these channels. If you capture that authentically – and you have a great gin within the bottle – it will help you to sell more.

It’s all in the design

Our work with the Winchester Distillery, for their flagship product Twisted Nose, has proven our theory. Their contemporary gin which is distilled with watercress from the chalk streams of Hampshire, has established a great taste reputation. I was initially introduced to it by a very opinionated chef who said it was original, delicious and one of the best. Sales grew steadily over the past five years, as its reputation spread. Then came the gin boom.

HMRC has just released its figures showing a 22% increase in new distilleries opening in the UK last year. If you look at England alone the number of distilleries has grown from a mere 23 in 2010, to 66 in 2014 (when Twisted Nose was launched) through to a massive 228 now. Gin sales in the UK totalled a whopping £2.6bn. How on earth can you compete with over 500 UK gins and then many of the 6000 from overseas?

Where’s the proof?

By capturing the Twisted Nose story in the bottle and branding design we have completely changed consumer’s reactions. Previously the majority of gin drinkers who became Twisted Nose fans did so at tasting events or through recommendation. Once tried, the majority loved the citrus flavour with the exciting peppery sparkle of the watercress and would happily exchange their cash for a bottle. What happens now? Now, at events, on social media and online – consumers are loving it and exalting over the design. People are buying multiple bottles for gifts, they are purchasing because they assume the liquid will be amazing because the packaging reassures them it is. We believe we’ve created a design which captures the deliciousness of the gin. They love the provenance, the authenticity and the story of Twisted Nose. The perception and positioning of the brand has been elevated.


To top it all it recently won the 2020 World’s Best Gin Design Award. How’s that for a bit of shelf confidence.
If you would like to find out more about the story and design process for Twisted Nose read more here. If you’d love to own a bottle then you can purchase directly here.