The secret language of boxes

Posted by Steve on Apr 08th 2014 in: Semiotics 101: how packaging attracts by association, Wines & Spirits

Several Whiskey Brands on a Supermarket Shelf

A box is a code in itself, in the case of expensive spirits for both protection and gifting. The two are not unrelated, because our brain has learned to associate protection with precious and valuable items.

Shape, colour and proportion are hugely important signals here, and these combine to very different effects in this small sample of brands: The Glenrothes used to be the standout winner for me every time when its cardboard was visibly corrugated, but this more refined frame still puts the charming bottle on a pedestal; Glenfiddich’s triangular tube doesn’t tell us the bottle follows that structure, but most buyers know that. The pack instead evokes the subtly different tastes of ageing methods and expertise; The Macallan uses a gold and white evocation of fine linen to exude class and gift value, even without the free cufflinks; Jura has tried several ways over the years to capture the magic and mystery of its island home. This time it’s a classy tourist brochure seen through the lens of its bottle – ideal for beginners.