Be Good Not Bad by Brian Warren

9 August 2010

One of my Favorites: Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey

My favorite whiskey in the whole wide world is Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. These guys really know what their doing. Aside from making delicious whiskey, they have done a marvelous job of doing some simple but effective things to build a unique brand.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey

The Stranahan’s logo is decidedly secondary in this label design. The label is dominated by the words “Colorado Whiskey”. Are there other whiskeys made in Colorado? Probably. Does it matter? No. When you go to the store and see “Colorado Whiskey” on this label, it really stands out among all the other whiskeys on the shelf. Colorado, with its rich history of craft brewing, is seen as a place where delicious liquids are made. Add to that the cowboy and mining history of the the Rocky Mountains and you almost feel Stranahan’s came from that era.

The label is set at an angle. I suspect that’s intentional. These guys don’t have a labeling machine. In fact, they have volunteers come in and put all the labels on by hand, walking home at the end of the day with a couple free bottles of whiskey. So Stranahan’s embraces the inexact nature of hand-labeling their bottles and has everybody put them on at an angle. Yet another thing that will help this whiskey stand out on the shelf.

The label is also hand-signed by the distiller with a batch number, the date and comments. The one pictured in this post says “1st Batch in New Distillery”.

So, they’re doing the design and labeling right, and I can attest that they’re doing a fabulous job at making the whiskey. I do, however, have a huge problem with Stranahan’s: Their website is an absolute mess. It’s a nervous mix of varying type treatments and troublesome navigation. They obviously ran out of room for tabs across the top and had to start adding them to the side with a totally different design.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time harping on Stranahan’s for their website. One could argue it’s even charming: Given that making whiskey is such an analog process, of course they will have a lousy website. But, I’ll say this: When you have such a lovely product, with an established recognizable brand, you’re doing a huge disservice to that brand to give it such a crappy website.

A brand isn’t just a logo. “A brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company” (Wikipedia). Your brand is informed by everything from the design of your labels to how you treat your employees. So when you decide to have a pretty lousy website, you’re saying something about the kind of company you want to be seen as.

I’ll say it again: Stranahan’s is an exceptional product. I hope I’m not being too hard on these guys. They really do great work. I hope for their sake that Stranahan’s decides to improve their website to match the quality of the rest of their product.