CARTER HALES DESIGN LAB DRAWS ON JAPANESE MYTHOLOGY FOR NEW UPSCALE SAKÉ BRAND
Carter Hales Design Lab has joined forces with Hong Kong-based Distinguished Den Distribution Ltd. to create the identity and packaging for Four Fox Saké, a new entry into the saké market. The premium beverage is poised to transform the perception of the traditional Japanese rice wine from staid to upscale and hip.
Distinguished Den tasked Vancouver-based Carter Hales with delivering a brand that honours Japanese saké tradition, but appeals to trendsetting, upwardly mobile consumers with a penchant for premium products and high-end nightlife experiences. The brand was recently unveiled in Hong Kong and can now be found in some of the city’s most fashionable clubs, bars, and restaurants.
Carter Hales handled all the branding aspects including the visual identity (logo and associated elements), website (fourfoxsake.com), print and digital collateral, and custom bottle design.
“Our task was to bring saké into the 21st century to a high-end clientele. The packaging needed to honour the ancient traditions, but turn heads in a nightclub setting,” says Sean Carter, Director of Design at Carter Hales Design Lab. “Another challenge is that saké only has a one-year shelf life, which is exacerbated by ultraviolet light, so it is important that the design protect the saké. The result is a bottle which gives a nod to tradition, but exudes modern cool: a two-piece construction, with an LED light that illuminates the bottle in the darkness of a nightclub.”
For inspiration, Carter Hales looked to Japanese mythology and the figure of Inari Okami, the ancient God of rice, saké, swordsmiths, and foxes. Legend has it the fox spirits of Inari were entrusted to guard the Torii gates, only allowing the purest of spirits to pass. Four Fox Saké represents this purity and perfection. The crest on the bottle features four foxes guarding the Torii gate with snowfall overhead and rice fields at their feet. The Samurai swords, elegantly embossed in the profile of the bottle, pay homage to the ancient swordsmiths to whom Inari was god. The chrome finish, combined with the wooden cap, produces a modern take on an ancient classic.
“We gave Carter Hales a difficult assignment – creating an aspirational brand within a category in need of revival,” says Neil Hosie, Co-Founder, Distinguished Den Distribution Ltd. “To say that Carter Hales crushed this project would be something of an understatement. They listened intently to what we wanted to achieve and delivered us something so unique and beautiful that it was beyond our wildest expectations.”
Made in Niigata, Four Fox Saké is brewed according to centuries-old methods. Using Niigata’s pure, melted snow and highly-milled Gohyakumangoku rice, it is classified as Junmai Daiginjo – the highest grade of saké available.
Recent years have seen increased international interest in saké amongst discerning consumers seeking a sophisticated alternative to champagne, vodka and scotch. Exports of saké from Japan have more than doubled since 2001 with worldwide exports reaching record-breaking levels in 2014.
Four Fox Saké is currently available in select Hong Kong nightclubs, restaurants and specialty liquor retailers. It will be launched in nightclubs in London and New York later this year.
About Carter Hales Design Lab
Carter Hales Design Lab is a multi award-winning branding, graphic design, and digital firm. Based in Vancouver, Canada, the studio is headed by noted Vancouver designer Sean Carter and agency account veteran Ross Hales. Carter Hales helps businesses and organizations thrive through inspired design. Clients include YVR, TransLink, The City of Vancouver, The Wickaninnish Inn, BC Place, Vancouver Convention Centre and ScotiaMcLeod.
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