Standing out amid a sea of labels.

Wine industry leader E. & J. Gallo leans on design to keep its 130+ brands competitive.

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Established

1993

Employees: 7,000+ worldwide
Modesto, California
www.gallo.com

130+

Brands

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Objectives

Maintain consistent branding across a global portfolio

Scale activations to drive sales across print, web, video, social media, and packaging

Increase efficiency through cross-departmental documentation 

Create compelling packaging that's going to sell, engage, and impress

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Results

Effectively manage one-third of the wine and spirits market share

Create custom workflows using Adobe Creative Cloud apps

Keep teams aligned with shared design resources

Simplify the buying process and help consumers navigate the sea of labels 


“We understand the importance of being able to scale and deliver consistent brand experiences. We are continuously focused on a digital approach to design, using tools like Adobe Creative Cloud.”

 
Scott Elia

Creative Director, E. & J. Gallo


Designing for a family of brands means nurturing a family of designers

E. & J. Gallo is nothing short of a classic, iconic American wine brand, and also an incredible business success story. The family-owned company has grown over its nearly 90-year history to encompass more than 130 individual brands. “One in three bottles on the shelf in retail in the U.S. are Gallo brands. Our purpose at Gallo is to serve enjoyment in moments that matter and we are focused on bringing new consumers into the wine category,” says Scott Elia, Creative Director at E. & J. Gallo. In order to stand out in a sea of labels in supermarkets and liquor stores, it’s essential to create eye-catching labels, clever package design, and marketing materials that differentiate all the best each brand has to offer.

 

"Oftentimes, it feels like we’re drinking from a fire hose with so many brands to design for and manage. But we do what we have to do to make sure our team has the design resources to handle workload and meet all our deadlines," Elia says.

 

As one of the company's creative leaders, Elia is responsible for delivering extraordinary content at a massive scale. To do this, he and his fellow creative directors have had to systemize how they work on everything from label design to marketing activations. Gallo’s design team is centralized in the Modesto, California, corporate headquarters. “We have about 25 creatives on staff and a pool of freelance designers to handle the volume of work,” Elia says.

 

What’s their secret to being able to manage it all? Creating a style guide for each of the 130+ brands. "We created this very helpful document that the entire design studio and our partners in marketing use as well, and this keeps us all honest — and on brand," says Elia.

"It's challenging, because different brands can overlap styles and borrow each other's equities. Despite that, we still strive to make each brand its own unique experience." To help deal with the challenge, and create and maintain these style guides, E. & J. Gallo relies on Adobe Creative Cloud throughout the entire design process.


“To get our brands to pop out and get that consumer to reach for it and pull it off the shelf is really what our job is. Our job is to create, both on the packaging side and on marketing activation.”

 
Scott Elia

Creative Director, E. & J. Gallo


A wine brand for every consumer, while meeting regulatory requirements

Wine has, historically, been a very traditional industry when it comes to branding. But for Elia and E. & J. Gallo, breaking the mold has come with big business rewards. The company has seen great success with its brands, such as the largest wine brand in the world, Barefoot Wine. If you open up Barefoot's style guide, you'll see bright colors and playful graphics. Designers also lean very heavily on accolades; designing labels around medals and scores which recognize a wine for its quality.

 

All of this needs to be done under full compliance with government regulations for alcoholic beverages. Central to the design workflow is to make sure the labelling meets FDA and TTB requirements. Then, there's the physical demands of designing packaging.

 

"You want to design something that is beautiful and elegant, with wonderful touches and finishes and foils and embossings and all these things, but at the same time this beautiful label has to be applied to the bottle on a bottling line moving at high speeds. Any time you add any kind of embossing to paper it stiffens it. If there's too much embossing the paper might be too stiff to wrap around the bottle as it's zipping down the bottling line so you need to practical and prioritize the efficiency of the packaging process, too," says Elia.

"The wine aisle is the most confusing aisle in the store"

An important distinction, for wine brands like E. & J. Gallo, is the difference between customer and consumer. The company's customers are made up of grocery stores, liquor stores, and other retail outlets where the products will be sold. The consumer is, of course, the wine and spirit buyer.

 

"Our customer is looking for compelling packaging that's going to sell, engage, capture attention, and make a favorable impression on the consumer. They're also looking for focused programming for activations that are going to drive sales. Alcohol beverage companies cannot buy space in a grocery store or in a liquor store. You have to be able to provide something that is compelling to the retailer. Good design goes a long way," says Elia.

 

Wine is a competitive industry, and the act of purchasing wine can be quite stressful, he added. In speaking with many wine consumers over the years, many have told Elia that they find the wine aisle difficult to shop in. For a lot of people, picking the right wine to give as a gift is intimidating. The design team at E. & J. Gallo is also designing with this challenge in mind.

 

"I've heard this many, many times. The wine aisle is the most confusing aisle in the store. There are so many options. There's just a sea of labels. To get our brands to pop out and get that consumer to reach for it and pull it off the shelf is really what our job is. Our job is to create, both on the packaging side and on marketing activation," says Elia.

Using the full power of Creative Cloud to design at scale

"I've been using Adobe Creative Cloud before there was a Creative Cloud," says Elia, referencing his more than 20 years using Adobe tools. "It allows designers to create what they want and what they're seeing in their brain. We're able to translate our ideas digitally and onto paper, and I can't speak enough about the reliability and the functionality of the product over the years."

 

At E. & J. Gallo, design teams use Adobe Illustrator (their first choice for label design), Photoshop (especially for brand activations), InDesign (for marketing decks), and Acrobat to get the job done, whether that's on the packaging side of things or the marketing side. When it comes to the style guides, they take a design systems approach for creating and sharing elements, like fonts, with documentation explaining each brand’s typeface preferences. With more than 130 brands and guides, Elia's team has to prioritize. Some brands receive only approved fonts and a few graphic assets in their book, while others have expansive design systems covering everything from print, to web, video, and social media experiences — and of course, packaging.

 

E. & J. Gallo's is truly an international business, with its brands' products criss-crossing the globe and showing up on store shelves in more than 100 countries. To ensure compliance and consistency, labels for imported products are usually printed in the destination country of orgin; for example, a label may be designed in California, but will be printed in Italy or Argentina.

 

"The fact that all three of these core Adobe products — Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign — are recognized and used, not only in our internal workflow across design and production, but to virtually any print supplier in the world is a testament to efficiency," says Elia.


“The Creative Ambassador program allows us to get updates in front of our team, fast. We can also expose the team to apps that expand what we can do, like After Effects and Adobe Rush.”

 
Scott Elia

Creative Director, E. & J. Gallo


Saying "send me a PDF" is as second nature as saying "let's order lunch"

Adobe Acrobat is a particularly essential part of E. & J. Gallo's workflows, and the company has been using the tool since its launch more than 25 years ago. Acrobat is the primary vehicle that the company's design teams use to share proofs for approval. The beauty of Acrobat, says Elia, is its universality without sacrificing quality; all design stakeholders, from internal brand marketing and legal compliance teams, to external suppliers and government agencies, happily receive PDFs from design.

 

"Acrobat provides a compact and secure way for us to send and receive approval proofs that retain the artistic integrity of the original design," adds Elia.

 

"It’s a fully integrated piece of our process. Saying, 'send me a pdf' is as second nature as saying, 'let’s order lunch'.”

 

For E. & J. Gallo, Acrobat has established itself as being an efficient, easy-to-use, stable, and accessible way to send proofs and final art files, regardless of the receiver and their toolset or level of technological savvy.

Streamlining training and upskilling with Adobe Ambassadors

While Elia is, no doubt, a Creative Cloud pro, he acknowledges that the pace of work at E. & J. Gallo limits the time he has to learn new product features and find novel solutions to design challenges. That's why the company is part of Adobe's Creative Insider Ambassador program, which gives designated designers on Elia's team access to resources and support to learn about the latest releases and master the ins and outs of the 20+ tools in Creative Cloud.

 

"If you get caught up in the day-to-day, especially when work is really busy, you need insights into the latest updates and new apps. The Creative Ambassador program allows us to get updates in front of our team, fast. We can also expose the team to apps that expand what we can do, like After Effects and Adobe Rush," says Elia.

This has been especially valuable when it comes to customizing workflows. "When our ambassadors show us a new tip, it's always an ah-ha moment: ‘I wish I had known that. I had this project last week. This would have saved me hours if I had known that little trick.' That knowledge transfer is invaluable to our team," says Elia.

Toward a human-centered, mobile-friendly future in the wine industry

With its traditional roots, many wineries and wine companies have been slow to adopt mobile-first or mobile-only marketing techniques. At E. & J. Gallo, the move to digital and mobile marketing is in full force.

 

"Some experts on the team are using their iPads and turning out amazing work using Adobe Illustrator. Now, we're increasingly focused on designing mobile experiences for iPhone and Android devices," says Elia.

 

While it may seem like a daunting challenge, the sheer scale of E. & J. Gallo's design work also presents its designers with a considerable opportunity. In the traditional world of wine, they are able to create a brand for every type of wine consumer, experimenting with different aesthetics and getting the chance to be playful in an industry that often isn't. With Creative Cloud apps helping them every step of the way, the design team is able to innovate.

 

“We understand the importance of being able to scale and deliver consistent brand experiences. We are continuously focused on a digital approach to design, using tools like Adobe Creative Cloud. As we look to the future, we’ll continue to lean on technologies and creative systems — and a strong, well-skilled design team to make the magic happen,” Elia says, “Cheers!”

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