On August 11, 2022
Our graphic designers make us look good! Their days are jam-packed with designing liquor packaging, spirits label design, beverage brand logos, and other craft beverage branding pieces. We rely on their talent and skill to deliver art and style to our clients.
Every designer, of course, grooves in their own way, finding inspiration in different places, and getting motivated in distinct ways. It might be the morning ritual of coffee and a morning walk that gets them pumped to open InDesign or the graceful dance with Asana, our project management tool, that gets them focused. However our graphic designers do it, they’re doing it well. And we appreciate their uniqueness for that reason!
Honestly, the thing that really makes us stand out among alcohol branding companies: our people. And three graphic designers support our team: Andie Richardson, Lauren Gantner and Ashley Jhaveri, who also keeps us all on track as our project manager. And while each of them contributes equally to the work we do for our craft beverage clients, they each operate in their own individual ways.
Andie, Lauren and Ashley shared their day-to-day routines with us and found a few similarities but also a few surprising tricks and tips for designing spirits packaging!
For both Andie and Lauren, caffeine and a stretch of the legs are both needed before work. Meanwhile, Ashley kicks off the day with meditation. The common theme here is finding a bit of time to contemplate the work ahead, whether a liquor bottle design, a spirit label or whatever they may be creating.
“I get up between 7:30 and 8:30am, make a cup of coffee, and either go on a walk around the neighborhood or sit on my back deck while I get caffeinated,” Andie says. “And reflect on the day to come before I make it over to my desk.”
“I usually wake up around 8 to 9am, depending on when my first meeting or deadline is,” Lauren tells us. “I spend the morning easing into work: Checking email, walking my dog, sipping coffee, getting caught up on small tasks that I can check off my to-do list quickly.”
“My wake-up time usually depends on what time I have my first meeting and how late I stayed up working the night before,” Ashley admits. “I always start my day by meditating with my Headspace app then I check Slack, Asana and my calendar on my phone to get an idea of what my day holds.”
For Ashley, choosing a work location is an important part of that AM routine too. “I get up and decide where I want to work for the day,” she continues. “I have a small desk, but I prefer the sofa or the kitchen table. Outside is my ideal office — I’ll set up there any time the weather allows!”
Andie says this part of the morning makes up the most productive part of her day. “I’m usually most productive between 9am and 12pm, after my coffee kicks in, before I need a midday break,” she says. First, she checks her emails and updates her to-do list.
Ashley also checks into her email. Then she scrolls through Slack to catch up on discussions or messages. As she mentioned earlier, she digs into Asana. “Asana is our project management system and tells me what my tasks are for each day,” she explains.
Lauren plans out her day first thing, as well. “I make a task list for the day and physically write it out in a notebook or on Post-it notes,” she details. “This helps me block off my day for productivity!”
“I like to segment my day-to-day work by quick tasks (like updating the barcode on a label) that I can accomplish in a few minutes and deep work (like ideating, brainstorming and developing concepts for a logo) where I’ll need more solo time and brain space to think through,” Lauren adds.
Approaching a Design
“I usually start by looking at client notes and inspiration, then heading to Pinterest and Instagram for additional ideas,” Ashley tells us.
As Andie gets down to it, she shares a few similarities with Ashley. “I start with searching for reference imagery and making a Pinterest and/or mood board to define my direction,” she notes. “I then start to sketch, gather fonts I think will be good fits, and organize into different concepts.”
No matter the design or the project, the audience is a key element in determining the direction of any of the High-Proof designers. According to Lauren, “When designing a new label or new brand for our liquor clients, [we] always like to start with understanding who we’re designing for.” she explains. “By understanding who our audience is, it really helps us make decisions about what design and branding elements resonate.”
She adds that client direction is another logical starting point. “It’s important to deeply understand what our clients envision for their brand and the product they’re trying to bring to the market.” On that note, she adds that the product’s story, competitors, price point and purpose all factor in.
With all that in mind, our designers move to concept. “Ideating and mood boarding is the next step,” she continues. “With all of [our] learnings, [we] spend a few hours of deep work pulling together some high-level concepts and design directions that will best convey our clients’ message to the audience they’re trying to reach. Through this process, [we] often create mood boards that bring in outside design inspiration to show styles, colors, fonts, and imagery — this is where the branding and design elements really start to take some form.”
Getting Down To It
Our designers work with clients to select or at least loosely define concepts before moving forward. With inspiration and concept in place, they’re ready to put pen to paper — or whatever their tool is.
“Once we hear from our clients the styles they like and which mood boards they (and their audiences) gravitate toward, we can really begin to hone in on the visual elements that are the most meaningful for their brand. This phase is really about taking all of the details we liked and pairing it with the clients’ unique product, story, and audience. It’s like making an invisible idea visible,” ” Lauren tells us. “Sometimes it starts as a simple doodle on a piece of paper.”
Along a similar vein, Andie tells us, “I start to refine my sketches into vector assets and explore variations and ways to customize.”
As Lauren points out, “This process has a few rounds of review and iteration so that our clients are involved in the journey and can see their logo and brand take form.”
The designers dabble in a variety of projects, each one calling for a different process and skill set. Andie identifies a few different tasks she tackles. “One product can be much more than just the label, it can be social assets, sell sheets, POS items (like displays, window clings, posters, shelf talkers, etc.), a campaign, or a merch line.”
Ashley elaborates on her processes: “If it’s a logo, I often start with font choices. I always design logos in black and white first — it’s critical that a logo look sharp in only one color, as it will sometimes need to appear that way,” she asserts. “If it’s a label, I like to start with layout and imagery. Different styles or themes demand different levels of detail. I usually like to start simply then build in complexity as I go.”
Lunch & The Afternoon Agenda
After a few morning work hours, designers refuel in different ways. Andie prefers to snack rather than take a big meal that might slow her down. Both Ashley and Lauren suggest they occasionally snack too if that’s better for their schedule. Otherwise, Ashley might whip up a sandwich or reheat leftovers while Lauren sometimes gets out of the house for a local meal or a lunch with a client..
Whatever lunch amounted to, the three designers jump right back into work during the PM hours.
“I usually try to do the more tedious projects in the morning, ones that require more focus and creativity — like concept work for brand development projects,” Andie notes. “And then leave the more simple and quicker tasks for the afternoon — like finalizing assets, quick copy update, etc.”
With a slightly different style, Lauren explains, “I often save deep work for the afternoon or evening when I have more than one hour meeting-free and uninterrupted. This is mostly things like logo development, branding development, or concepting a new label. I prefer to get quick to-dos and deadlines out of the way in the morning, and I often have more focus after a mid-day workout and lunch.”
However, pre- or post-lunch has no bearing on Ashley’s work. “Time of day matters very little to me — it’s more about my energy level and what I’m focused on at the time,” she reveals.
Ending the Day
As the sun sets on our beverage branding company, each of the High-Proof Creative designers looks forward to ending their day.
“It sounds silly but my favorite thing after a day of work is the feeling of accomplishment,” Ashley divulges. “I also look forward to finishing up so I can focus on home tasks that I’d like to accomplish. I’m a very task-oriented person so I’ve spent years trying to maximize my daily to-do list. Now I’m trying to learn how to stop working and relax haha.”
Andie craves those home tasks too, in a way. “I look forward to cooking dinner … the kitchen is my happy place,” she discloses. “I’ll put on some music, make a drink and prep dinner for my partner and myself. It’s a great way to unwind and get away from the screen for a bit.”
On the other hand, Lauren looks for a different outlet. “I love ending my day with a dog walk and a cocktail,” she confides. “And computer-free time to re-energize and get re-inspired.”
It takes all kinds of routines and daily rituals to build a continuous stream of creativity our clients rely on our team to supply. Our designers’ different foundations and patterns empower us to deliver excellence on every front, from distillery branding and packaging to website overhauls and social media assets.
What does your daily creative process look like?
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