As someone who unashamedly still picks wine bottles expressly on the basis of their labels, I can attest to the fact that first impressions are important in the overcrowded world of alcoholic beverages. And in general, the prevailing packaging dictum for the category is to do everything possible to make that impression. Stand in front of the massive air-conditioned beer wall at your supermarket to see what I mean—you’ll find screaming type, bold graphics, and colors covering more or less the entire visible spectrum. The designers behind the identity for Tiqo, a new Tequila-based mixed drink, are trying something different to cut through all that clatter: restraint.
The design, executed by the interdisciplinary firm Manifiesto Futura, based in Monterrey, Mexico, is certainly different than most of what you’ll find on those shelves. While the silhouette of the proposed bottle is the same as any other, a handful of small details set it apart. For one, the thing is all black—cool, matte Batman black—from bottom to bottletop. The logo mark is a minimalist collection of simple shapes that spell out Tiqo, and it’s printed directly on the bottle itself.
The overall result is a thing with a fluid form and a confident character. No paper label to pick at nervously here, no sir—just a classy 5% ABV Tequila-based mixed drink in a bottle you’ll want to put on your bookshelf afterward. Granted, every beer has its own personality—its own look and its own taste—but on the visual side of things, those personalities are overwhelmingly of the alpha variety. In terms of branding, alcoholic products are essentially competing to be the loudest person at the party, the idea being that hopeful imbibers will follow. Tiqo, apparently, is content to be the mysterious, sexy foreigner standing in the corner (he’s probably an architect).
In fact, that’s precisely what the team at Manifiesto was going for with the design. Vicky González, the firm’s president and executive director, says that her designers look at every new beverage as though it were "one super specific person." In branding Bocanegra, a beer marketed toward "strong men," González says that her team in fact designed a bottle specifically targeted at rich people who wanted to feel like hipsters (the bottle bears the label "cerveza artesanal"). Tiqo is a bit more aspirational—it’s designed to embody "the guy or girl we all want to be," González says—or the one we all want to be with. Tiqo’s the "effortlessly cool, effortlessly elegant" person who doesn’t need to shout to turn heads.
Alas, intriguing, understated strangers aren’t quite as abundant in real life as they are in our fantasies, and in much the same way, this beautiful bottle might not be meant for our endlessly regulated world. González was quick to point out that the mock-up seen here is merely her studio’s vision for the brand, and the final look will be subject to the scrutiny of those at the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, where the design is currently under review. I’m not getting my hopes up. Trade bureaus are notorious party poopers.