How Watermark Design Made Pre-Mixed Cocktails Classy AF

Thanks to Wheelhouse Canning Co., you don’t have to sacrifice convenience for elegance when it comes to canned cocktails. These beverages come ready to enjoy and are perfect for sunny Sunday picnics, backyard BBQs, or pool parties. We spoke with Darcey Lacy at Watermark Design to learn more about the goals for developing the design, doing things the old-fashioned way, achieving a high-quality design for a high-quality project, and more.

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

Watermark Design: After developing the creative brief with the client, we began with several different concepts.

The project goals included visually conveying the light, refreshing nature of the cocktails, as well as the fresh ingredients used within. Many of the initial recipes have been developed for easy summer drinking, both in taste, but also the canned packaging for easy transport to outdoor events and adventures.

Our design solution to communicate “fresh and light” was our color palette, using a white base and integrating colors from the ingredients into the illustrations. The complimentary “metallics” in the lettering introduce a touch of elegance and history, hinting at the style often seen on spirits labels, both in form and color.

The package also needed to convey the artisanal nature of the product. The founder, Quinton Bennett, comes from over 15 years of experience behind the bar, so letting the consumer know that this is a balanced, bartender-crafted cocktail was important.

We developed and integrated hand-drawn illustrations to invoke a personal, organic, artisanal touch.

What was one of the biggest goals you set out to achieve with Wheelhouse Canning Co. packaging and how did you accomplish it?

Watermark Design: Our package design had to match the quality of the cocktails inside.

Wheelhouse’s carefully honed, perfectly balanced recipes are of the highest quality, and so we invested all of our energy in executing hand drawn illustrations matching Wheelhouse’s level of craft with our own. Like many designers, we are all trained artists, so integrating something executed by hand into something produced digitally is always exciting.

What was the most challenging part of this project?

Watermark Design: The front of the can has a lot of moments that require special attention. Once a concept was selected, we worked in earnest toward ensuring that we had the space for varying titles on the front of the can, and adjusting the concept as needed. Based on the number of ingredients used in each cocktail, the space needed could shift dramatically.

Each title is hand-lettered, so there was also a large time investment here, as new letterforms were required each time the recipe changed.

We then worked toward ensuring that the aluminum of the can shows through the correct moments across the sleeve, to appear ‘foiled’. This was executed through our close partnership with CanSource, the sleeve printer, out of Colorado.

How did you develop the illustrations that appear on the cans?

Watermark Design: Good old fashioned pen and ink sketched by eye, scanned and laid into Illustrator. We believe that starting on pen and paper allows for more creative freedom, and we love our microns.

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?

Watermark Design: The illustrations shift from can to can, and really communicate what awaits you inside the can, and we are proud of the execution of the drawings, as artists. Our hope is that we nailed the fresh, elegant, fun vibe of these cocktails, and that people will pick it up based on the package, until Wheelhouse becomes a known brand.

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

Watermark Design: With wine labels, a lot of the more TTB required details that are not as visually enticing can be shifted to the back of the label, but with cocktails, it must appear on the front of the can. We modified the design a few times, to ensure that all required content was on the final, approved cans.