SKÓGAR – Icelandic Whiskey
Package design and product development for SKÓGAR - Icelandic Single Malt Whiskey
Special thanks to:
Guðjón Jóhannes Guðlaugsson
Jóhann Lúðvík Torfason
Prentsmiðjan Oddi ehf.
Prentun og Pökkun ehf.
Members of the Icelandic Whiskey Appreciation Society
In the spring of 2010 I went on a whisky tasting journey to the west coast of Scotland to an island called Islay. There I experienced first hand what it took to make good whisky. I also realized that the environmental factors in Islay were quite similar to those in Island; so I thought “why not make whiskey in Iceland?” And thusly the idea of an Icelandic made whiskey was born. In 2011 I started writing a business report on the subject and finally in early 2012, as part of my final project at IAA, I started the branding process.
Whiskey was originally the drink of choice of lower and middle class laborers, but in recent years whiskey has been associated with the upper classes. Today people associate whiskey with sitting back in a leather chair, smoking a cigar and having a dram of whiskey. So, the idea behind this new Icelandic Whiskey was simple; bring whiskey back to the common man.
With that in mind I began creating a no-nonsense brand of whiskey. It needed to be unpretentious, affordable and appeal to the average income consumer. Work began on a backstory; to create a visual and conceptual connection between Icelandic whiskey and something that would appeal to the target group chosen. To make whiskey, having the experience and the know how is very important. Most whiskey brands, especially those from Scotland and Ireland, rely on the fact that they’ve been doing this for almost 500 years. Obviously, this is a path that this new Icelandic whiskey could not pursue. But it takes more than experience to make whiskey; you also need determination, patience and tenacity, something that, after establishing a thriving community on what was basically a frozen tundra, Icelanders have in abundance.
So, now that we’ve established that the concept behind the branding is ‘an homage to hard work and industrious individuals’, how do we turn it into something visual? How do we make packaging that would appeal to someone who appreciates hard work, precision and practicality? Simple. We do it with hard work, precision and practicality.
The whiskey comes in three age varieties; 10, 15 and 21 year old. The packaging for the 10 and 15 year old are made from strong cardboard, while the packaging for the 21 year old are handcrafted from icelandic birch. Each container is hexagonal, which is easier and more practical to stack. That way you can fit more units into a box or truck, i.e. you can transport more units in less trips. But the decision to make the containers hexagonal wasn’t only for practical reasons; it also has environmental considerations. Good whiskey relies completely on pure and unspoiled nature. That’s why it was also important to make the packaging environmentally friendly. Being able to transport more units in less trips results in less co2 emission. Add that to the fact that all the materials used are bio-degradable and you end up with very eco-friendly packaging.
For the target consumer, someone who appreciates craftsmanship, someone who is very detail oriented in his work, it was very important to make the process of whiskey production very transparent. The text on the bottle explains exactly what materials were used in the production. The bottle itself is very simple, plain and unpretentious. It holds 500ml of whiskey and has silkscreen printed information on the front.
The only conceptual element in the whole design is the hand print on the packaging. The shape of a hand as a symbol has been used in many different ways, for example in the shape of a fist as a symbol for various political movements. For this brand it represents the worn and dirty hands of a working man, and by ‘dirty’ I don’t mean that in a bad way, but rather as the inevitable byproduct of working hard.