Co.Design

Jack Daniel’s Gets A (Mild) Facelift

But he’s still one fine drink of whiskey.

Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel, the creator of Jack Daniel’s, would approve of the powerhouse his distillery has become. His elixir is one of the best-selling whiskies in the world and, with its black label and square bottle, also one of the most recognizable. But even iconic brands need a refresher now and again.

Jack Daniel’s recently enlisted Minneapolis-based brand strategists and designers Cue to help spruce up the packaging of the liquor company’s famous Old No. 7. "You can’t stand in any one place too long," Cue Creative Director Alan Colvin tells Co.Design. "It had been a couple of decades since Jack Daniel’s had an update and they were ready and willing to modernize."

The people of J.D. didn’t follow the larger trend of going totally bare bones on their label. That said, they did inch closer to a less-is-more aesthetic. The creative minds at Cue stripped away a lot of the visual clutter and created a balanced design on the three-sided label. "The idea that it’s authentic because it’s old needed to be shed," explains Colvin. On the front, they kept the iconic filigree intact and put less emphasis on "Old" in Old No. 7. They also did away with the phrase "Old Time." One side of the new label features a prominent tip of the hat to its maker while the other side whets your whistle with a description of the bottle’s contents.

The bottle’s changed, too. Mr. Daniel purposely chose a square bottle way back in 1895 to differentiate J.D. from other brands. Cue didn’t radically change the shape, they just gave it a few nips and tucks, adding what they refer to as "shoulders" (more heft below the neck) to create a "more masculine" bottle.

As for the stuff inside: Worry not, you boozy purists, Jack’s spirit lives on.

[Images via Cue]

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13 Comments

  • Cowboy_X

    "Worry not, you boozy purists, Jack’s spirit lives on." Untrue. They changed the recipe in 2004 to a lower proof.

  • Brad Gantt

    A quick click on the "Cue" link above will take you to a case study that will explain the evolution in detail if you're interested. I actually quite like the new package.

  • Billy Bob

    They ruined a great brand by making it unauthentic with design that brought slick, over thought execution into a design that felt it came from the backwoods of Kentucky. Big miss.

  • Patrick Wang

    If they were going for more masculinity, I think they failed. The new design looks way too restrained and gives more weight to the flourishes. Just look how much "Tennessee" and "Whiskey" have shrunk relative to the rest of the label. Now it looks more like a poncey cognac bottle.

  • Richard Geller

    Someone has to be the contrarian, so…side by side, I'm more drawn to the older package. It makes a bigger statement overall—a bolder impression of  brand  tradition, ancestry and authenticity.  If I was going to pick up one of those bottles, I'd choose the former for its charm.

  • Diana

    janis joplin would approve.  i met her once, and she was swigging her jack daniels and asked me if i wanted some.  i was sitting with b.b. king, who had already bought me a drink, so i declined her offer.

  • Basimerly

    Agreed, comparison would have been nice, but bring on more Randi Greenberg !  Nice writing as always. 

  • prudddd

    Luckily I had a bottle siting in my kitchen for comparison, but a side by side on here would have been nice.

    They did a nice job cleaning up the bottle.  I especially like the pinstripes on the side!

  • Tra4art

    Yes, I agree. It's a great piece and refreshing update to the look of Jack Daniel's, each element and the total is wonderful, but I scrolled up and down searching for the earlier label for comparison's sake

  • Carey Smith

    You should have posted a side by side with the new and old labels so we 'the readers' could compare. Other than that though, pretty cool.