How this Agency Communicated the Depth of Chinese Culture on a Liquor Bottle

We’re seeing red, and it’s never looked better. Lingyun Creative designed the packaging for JinLiuFu-YiTanHaoJiu-XiTan, a Chinese liquor intended for celebrations like weddings, buying a house, or a new baby. The color red is often used in Chinese culture for these types of happy events, but it can be hard, then, for a product to stand out. Lingyun Creative shared how they balanced utilizing this hue while also creating something new and elegant, dealing with strict guidelines from the client, and more.

Walk us through the design process that you went through for this project.

Lingyun Creative: Entrusted by Yunnan JLF Investment Co., Ltd. in December 2015, we started to work on the package design of its white spirit product named “A Bottle of Quality Liquor: Happiness”. The work has progressed for nearly two years along with initial brainstorming, design style confirmation, sketchy drawing, proposal submission and finished product manufacturing. On the final sample, we added a copper pendant carved with an upside-down bat, which signifies blessing in Chinese culture. At the moment, this product is available on the market of some areas of China.  

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with this liquor packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Lingyun Creative: The product was launched to target the happy banquet market of China.

In China, when people get married, move into a new house, celebrate a festival or have a newborn baby, they will invite their relatives and friends to have a reunion. They sit around a table and drink and eat together is called the happy banquet. On these occasions, Chinese tend to decorate the venue with some red or auspicious elements—that is why we tried so hard to deliver as much information about liveliness and joy as possible through the package design. Specific to brand name design, we integrated many images with auspicious implications to form 一坛好酒, the four Chinese characters for “A Bottle of Quality Liquor”.

With regard to the images with auspicious implications in Chinese culture, we would like to give you some cases in point. Chinese people regard it as a symbol for luck and prosperity if there is a swallow nesting at their home because swallows usually appear in spring, the time when everything comes to life, they epitomize the coming of hopes. It is an animal that brings vitality must be very favorable.  

Nevertheless, in Chinese culture, some animals that do not seem adorable are also given a positive meaning, such as the bat. The reason behind is that the pronunciation of “bat” is the same as that of “blessing” in Chinese. As a result, the bat has been implied with good fortune since ancient times of China. This also explains the bat-like pendant we added as an ornament on the final sample.

In the end, we creatively combined all the auspicious elements we redesigned to form the product name. In this way, the designed product name not only remains recognizable, but also looks attractive at the first glance of consumers. They can accurately understand the enterprise’s intention and choose to drink this Chinese white spirit at the happy banquet.  

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Lingyun Creative: The biggest challenge was the enterprise’s strict requirements for product design.

Before our work, there was a product named “A Bottle of Quality Liquor” which had already achieved good performance on the market. However, market feedback showed that the first edition lost a customer base in the happy banquet market due to its monochromatic package design.

Beverage consumption in the happy banquet market of China is considerable. Just in terms of the market segment of wedding banquet, annual beverage consumption has reached up to tens of billions of Chinese yuan (or even higher). In addition, Jin Liu Fu, the parent brand of the “A Bottle of Quality Liquor” has been dedicated to spreading the blessing culture of China in the Chinese white spirit market for a long time. This made the enterprise believe that they can never lose the happy banquet market.

Therefore, the enterprise had clear requirements for the product design that the shape of the original container cannot be changed too much. Moreover, neither the calligraphic style of the four characters nor the position of the label can be changed. With these restrictions, the room for our design is not much.  

If you could pick one aspect of the finished design that you like the most or feel especially proud of, what would it be and why?

Lingyun Creative: When it comes to a design detail we like most, we insist on the design of the label. The original calligraphy was elaborately made by the enterprise and has acquired certain brand recognition with first-edition products distributed on the market. From this point of view, the enterprise’s request for format consistency of the product name is reasonable. However, we would have lost the only opportunity to make any breakthrough if we had kept the exactly same characters. To avoid that, we only kept the basic framework of the characters and then filled them with our creative elements. The solution kills two birds with one stone as it retains the original brand effect and brings better consumption experience to consumers at the same time.

Share one lesson that you learned while developing the finished product.

Lingyun Creative: During entire design processes, the greatest progress was our increasing understanding of our own culture, which calls for our persistent exploring and learning. Only in this way can our design become more vibrant, informative and reflective. I think we still have a long trail to blaze in terms of how to better integrate ethnic elements into modern aesthetics.