Ugly Labels – An Update

Peter Renton writes;

The US government has been mulling new labels for wine, beer and liquor for several years now. There has been a push to require more comprehensive information, similar to standard nutrition labels on food, on wine and beer labels and it appears this movement is gaining strength. Last week the government released its proposal for public comment.

All the big companies seem to be supporting these new changes. The folks over at Diageo PLC, the owner of such famous brands as Guinness, Smirnoff and Johnnie Walker, have welcomed the move saying it is a “giant and very positive step in the right direction.” Similarly Beam Global Spirits and Wine Inc., owners of many premium alcohol brands including Jim Beam Whiskey and Clos du Bois wines, had positive things to say, “we agree with the spirit of the government’s efforts to provide consumers with more information.”

Some people are concerned about the visual appeal on the labels of these new regulations. I pulled this graphic off Tom Wark’s Fermentation Wine blog. It shows an exaggerated picture of the potential impact of these new changes. He says, “it appears that the future of wine labels may include a hefty dose of Ugly.”

I completely disagree – here is my take on the new regulations. I realize that a beautifully designed wine label can have a huge impact on the success of a wine, and these new regulations should not change that. Most wine is labeled with both a front and a back label, and the front label can remain unchanged. So the visual impact of wine labels will not be impacted, the consumers will never even notice these changes unless they pick the bottle off the shelf and turn it around. And any designer worth their salt should be able to incorporate these new regulations unobtrusively into a small box on the back label.

Anyway, these changes won’t be happening any time soon. The government is soliciting public comment until October 29. Then they will consider the changes and after they make the decision companies will have three years to comply with the new standards.

See also: “The Future of Wine Labels“.