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Lead Image

Coven Vodka Packaging


Production Method

Foil stamp



Hired Guns Creative

Product Naming, Branding, and Packaging Design: Hired Guns Creative
Product Photography: Sean Fenzl



Okanagan Label & Print

The concept for Coven vodka has been considered and applied thoroughly on these eerily seductive bottles. From the hand-dipped wax to the massive amounts of white space — or is it white space? — every detail has a reason and a story that ties it into the overall concept. 



Arbutus Distillery

Quantity Produced

Production Cost

Production Time

3 weeks

Dimensions (Width × Height × Depth)

Front label: 5.1026 × 7.2806 in
Back label: 4.5729 × 2.3144 in

Page Count

Paper Stock

Fasson / Estate Label No. 8 / White

Number of Colors

2 colours and one foil





Description ---

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Project Description

Hired Guns Creative provided the product naming, branding, and packaging design for Coven, a vodka from Arbutus Distillery, Vancouver Island's newest craft distillery.
The Brief:

Arbutus Distillery had three main objectives for their packaging of their inaugural product lineup:

1. Compete with the other brands in their competitive set. Many small craft distilleries' products look amateur or home-made when compared with products from the large spirits producers. Arbutus wanted their products to be able to stand tall against some of the most famous products in the industry and out-perform products from their smaller, regional competitors.
2. Create brands for each of its products that would be distinct from each of the other products and from the overall distillery brand. This approach will make it easy for them to make changes to one or two of their products down the road without having to redo the packaging of their entire product line.
3. Showcase a bit of the darker, wickeder side of our earthly existence without scaring consumers away.

The Approach:

Rather than trying to introduce a completely new concept to consumers, Hired Guns created brands for Arbutus Distillery's products that are deeply rooted in history, redressing it, modernizing it, tweaking it, refining it. This parallels the approach that Arbutus' distiller takes when he creates his products.

We used imagery and concepts for the Arbutus brands that consumers recognize on a deep, old level … perhaps from old stories, dreams, or even nightmares.

The name "Coven" was chosen for this product for a number of reasons. It speaks of a number of elements that could be advantageous to a vodka brand: gatherings, group activities, exclusivity, mysteriousness, and the possibility of a sexual component, (depending on how the evening turns out.) "Coven" is also a bit of a play on the idea of spirits, as it can refer both to the category of alcohol and the spirit world. From the design perspective, "Coven" is a very clean, balanced word that's easy to work with on a graphic level. And, of course, there are the obvious criteria: it's easy to spell, say, pronounce, read from a distance, and it was available to trademark.

Once the name was settled, the design challenge was all about how to get these concepts across in a visual way. We wanted to add a special element to the packaging - a 4th dimension, if you will, that engages customers once they've got the product home.

In the day time, Coven is a simple, elegant package. It sits comfortably within its competitive set with several several quality indicators: hand-dipped wax, die-cut label, foil & embossing details, and massive amounts of whitespace. In fact, the white frosted bottle is an extension of the label's whitespace. These details give the consumer confidence; the packaging quickly communicates craft & quality.

But darkness changes everything.

When the lights go down, the ritual begins. At night, the glow-in-the-dark overprint emerges on the front label to show a gathering of witches: some creepy, some seductive … all of them dark and foreboding. The chaos of the nighttime scene is emphasized by the simple, minimalist design of the "daylight" label.

Printing & Glass Details:

At Hired Guns Creative we stay on top of new and emerging printing and packaging technologies/techniques, filing them away for the right project. Coven was a case of matching a concept with a relatively uncommon printing technique. We worked hand in hand with the label printer to ensure that the label would work effectively in the dark.

For bottle selection, we were limited to stock bottle shapes because Arbutus Distillery isn't large enough (yet) to warrant custom glass. We chose a bottle that was different than the other stock bottles commonly used in their competitive set, likely because it is a bit more expensive than the lower-end options. It is made of higher quality, thicker glass and reinforces the "craft" part of the craft distillery image that Arbutus Distillery is cultivating. It has a sexy shape and a lot of surface area to work with when designing labels. Also, it's suitable for the entire range of products that they have planned in the future (gin, absinthe, whiskey, etc.)

Coven will be available in the Canadian market in the fall of 2013.

Production Lesson(s)

Getting the small details on the phosphorescent portion of the label was a challenge. Fortunately, our printer was up to the task. We went back and forth a few times, tweaking various details of the illustrated characters so that all of the eyes, mouths, and noses showed up properly. The printer ended up putting down two coats of the phosphorescent ink so that the label would glow to the level that we wanted.”

Post Author

Author Picture

Duncan Robertson

Former intern at UnderConsideration LLC.

More: Online / On Twitter


Date Published

October 15, 2013


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