Our relationship with Paranormal wines started around mid-August 2020. Max Walker and Georgia Hobbs were opening something exciting in Canberra: a natural wine shop and bar with a supernatural edge. What started originally as a six-week plan to launch the brand into the universe has developed into an over year-long relationship — evolving from social copy to eDM strategy and art direction. Curious about the evolution? Take a look at the journey, from ideation to lift-off.
Consult and strategy:
When Paranormal’s owners, Max Walker and Georgia Hobbs, approached us to help launch their impending venue, we were excited, to say the least. Their objective: open a natural/supernatural wine shop unlike anything else in the region, where punters can sip-in with corkage and eat from an edited snacks list. The vibe, as its name suggests, is other-worldly: the wines are minimal intervention, pressed from interesting grapes from regions all over; the branding (by Nina Gibbes) is cool as hell and the tone of Paranormal’s content needed to feel odd, a little non-sequitur, sci-fi-y, to bring it all together.
To reflect the brand personality set by the owners, Paranormal’s tone of voice needed to be incredibly unique. At once playful, retro, inclusive, hospitable and sci-fi-esque. Visually, like many brands, it needed to communicate its product (the ~ celestial sips ~), dine-in situation and any events, in its own way. Cue teaser phase.
Pre-launch shoot and press:
First off the bat was content for the teaser phase and its art direction. The teaser phase is important — it’s the audience-building, appetite-whetting stage before your doors open, when you start to tell the story of what your brand will be, slowly revealing your concept and getting people excited over a number of weeks (or months if your build is lagging 🙃). It’s your new followers’ first date with your brand, what it will offer, what it looks and sounds like and what’s to come — in short, it’s important you get off to a good start. Encapsulating Paranormal’s personality visually was key to this communication: glittery, starry, spacy and a tad blurry (mysterious, like a UFO sighting) was our direction. Here we conjoined both Paranormal food and wine with the neon brights from Nina’s branding to get the ball rolling. Blur was used to show movement and to add intrigue, like a hand reaching out of a spaceship to grab the most delicious bottle in the frame. Sparkly glints were added in post-production to really drive home the spacy notion. Once we had our suite of imagery we rolled it out, post by post, over a few weeks to 1: Lure people in with killer imagery. 2: Showcase the wines and snacks on the Paranormal agenda and 3: Slowly chip away at building its holistic brand identity with a fascinating tone of voice in the copy.
Like many new venues, d-day was delayed by a few months (thanks, COVID) which ultimately meant directing their soft-launch shoot remotely. No drama for us though. The direction here: celebratory! Whiling! Wining! Sipping! Show off all the space! Capture the stacked wine shelves and people having a blast! Keep it all a bit weird! Vibe is paramount to Paranormal, and something that needed to be clearly communicated beyond just the copy.
In the early days of opening a venue or launching a brand you need to showcase it all, in quick succession. Are you a restaurant? Cool, then you should post about your food, drinks, space, exteriors, interiors, staff — all of it! For Paranormal, being a shop-bar hybrid, a number of content pillars needed to be planned. Not only did we need to capture the bottles and shelves, but also snacks, the service, people enjoying the space, the act of drinking and the surroundings (there’s a park across the road you can takeaway to).
After Paranormal’s launch success it was deemed necessary to take it to another plane: a newsletter. This would be another opportunity to expand on Paranormal’s unique brand each month, more directly reach its audience and eventually, push to its online store (keep your eyes 👀). Enter: a monthly editorially-geared eDM. Each month we strategise (establish the objective of the newsletter), write, design, animate and deliver this colourful jewel. It’s a virtual nugget of out-of-this-world wine and sci-fi movie pairings, the best strange stuff happening in Canberra and lots more. This is a space where Paranormal is able to stretch its legs, dig into itself as a brand and show its audience what it’s about, in a way that’s both helpful and festive.
The most recent notch added to our Paranormal belt is graphic design. With such excellent branding and a suite of fun icons delivered by Nina, it felt like a shame to leave them inanimate. Each month, as part of our eDM and social deliverables we build on Nina’s brand identity by manipulating its assets to create blinking wine glasses, spinning cheeses, hovering bunches of grapes and heaps more.
While it isn’t really BAU for many of our friends in hospitality at the moment, our Canberran friends at Paranormal are certainly making the best of a tough situation. In the meantime we’ll continue planning for its socials, directing and producing photoshoots, writing its eDMs and doing cool stuff with its branding. As with all our clients, Paranormal included, our strategy isn’t static. With growth, engagement and product development our strategy for Paranormal is constantly evolving, informed by the cold, hard facts (AKA stats).