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New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
 

before

after

I assume most people know Absolut but, for the record, let’s cover some basics of the vodka spirit: First introduced in 1879 in Sweden and imported into the U.S. in 1979; packaging based on a medicine bottle goes supernova with the series of Absolut [blank] ads in the 1980s; becomes one of the top brands of spirits around the world; is owned by French group Pernod Ricard; and is the fourth largest international spirit brand in the world. (And, yes, I wrote this before in this post; reduce, reuse, recycle as they say). This week, Absolut has announced a redesign to its iconic bottle with the effort being helmed by The Brand Union.

There are more images and videos at this media site.

Since its launch in 1979, the Absolut Vodka bottle has stood out for its shape. The new bottle is a transformation of the original, featuring an updated two line logo, a new script, a redesigned medallion, reduced glass weight and a new brand signifier. To update what was already seen as a perfect bottle, Absolut brought together a group of creatives including a master illustrator and master calligrapher, each adding their mark to the new bottle through their own pursuit of perfection.

Press release

New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Process.
The iconic shape of the bottle has been strengthened to feature more clearly defined shoulders, straightened neck and body, and a flattened bottom, while also using a reduced glass weight to minimize environmental impact.

Press release

New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Before and after comparison.

The changes to the bottle shape are very subtle. If you stare hard enough at the image above you’ll eventually see them. The overall effect is a much more streamlined contour, slightly less bulbous but nothing that would make or break its recognition. At this point in its brand lifetime it would make no sense to alter the shape in any significant form.

One of the most significant updates was to add a brand signifier to the back of the bottle, adding a bold, new short hand for the Absolut brand.

Press release

New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Back and front.
New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Detail, back.

The blue logo and script text on the bottle have become as iconic as the bottle itself and it’s almost hard to imagine an improvement to it, yet here it is. The new bottle features a modified “Absolut Vodka” logo that adds tiny flared serifs to the Futura-Condensed-esque version of forever. This is the one aspect of the redesign I don’t like at all but, at a distance, they are hardly recognizable and actually help define the shapes of the letters against the clear bottle. The new, reduced script is absolutely stunning and looks less like a wedding invitation; it makes the bottle feel more special and bespoke. The boldest addition is a frosted “A.” on the back… looks great from the back, doesn’t look that great from the front when it gets distorted but it does add some nice dimensionality to the bottle. The new seal is quite handsome; I had never even noticed there was one on it (but in my defense, I think I’ve bought and owned one bottle of Absolut in my lifetime).

Absolut brings the passion of its ‘One Source’ philosophy directly onto its updated bottle with a new script. “My craft involves using the ancient art of writing and languages to create fresh, new work. Letters are the main ingredient of my creations, so for the Absolut bottle I experimented with many options that reflected the Swedish style. The result is cool, simple and modern, with an elegant touch.”

Luca Barcellona, Calligrapher / Press release

New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Detail, script by Luca Barcellona.
The seal on the bottle features a portrait of Lars Olsson Smith, the founder of Absolut who pioneered the continuous distillation process. “To pay homage to the man himself, we tried new ideas again and again until we found the perfect interpretation — a bold image which depicts Lars Olsson Smith at the height of his success.”

Martin Mörck, Illustrator and Engraver / Press release

New Packaging for Absolut Vodka by The Brand Union
Detail, seal engraving by Martin Mörck.
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The end result.

The overall effect of the redesign is a solid improvement that tweaks the brand’s winning visual formula with some elegant evolutions from top to bottom quite literally.

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