Case study: Brand development
for Sweet Gwendoline French Gin
Creating the building blocks to success from brand vision to brand launch.
Industry: Premium speciality spirits/lifestyle
Size: Entry level
Premium lifestyle brand Sweet Gwendoline French Gin results from Larry McGearty’s lifelong passion for the artistry of John Willie, a passion he shares with Dita Von Teese—his business partner in the project.
Work with the founders to develop a premium gin based on the aesthetic, values and whip-cracking glamour of mid-century fetish artist John Willie.
Build a brand that will champion his legacy and bring to life the spirit of his most iconic character, “Sweet Gwendoline”.
How do you combine the seemingly disparate worlds of John Willie and Gin with authenticity and purpose?
If the brand is perceived as a niche fetish brand, will enough customers relate to it, or will too many decide, "it’s just not my cup of gin?"
If it's too broad, extolling the virtues of both John Willy, fetish and French Gin, will it fail to resonate with either fan?
How is the world of consensual subversion expressed in a way that sounds inviting, erotic and seductive, free from objectification and feelings of alienation from those unfamiliar with its passions?
Make John Willie's simple commitment to liberty, equality and the freedom to express yourself in your "own sweet way" (as he would often write) the overarching brand message.
After all, these values resonate with everyone: gin fans, the fetish community and bartenders.
The aesthetic of John Willie's fetish was developed as the visual language for the brand. For its tone of voice, the work explored his publishing project: his "fashion" magazine Bizarre.
Brand pillars were identified, and language was developed to mirror its humour—the tactic he employed to camouflage sometimes explicit content to make it feel playful and less intimidating.
As John Willie put his passions within a fashion context, so too does the brand. Not only is this authentic to “what John Willie would have done”, but it appeals to both his fanbase and those who just love glamour and playful, witty, razor-sharp language.
Most importantly, the work reimagined Sweet Gwendoline for the 21st century regarding diversity and representation, repositioning John Willies catalyst, inspiration (and wife) Holly Anna Faram upfront and centre in the story, exactly where she belongs.
A brand that feels bold and modern, in step with the current zeitgeist.
Known for its unique, intriguing and glamorously risqué activations, it justifies why the Sweet Gwendoline brand is a French Gin: because glamorous cocktails create the drinking moments that bring like-minded people together.
An opportunity to dress up, look fabulous and discuss the things they value and enjoy.
Its look and feel have delighted and bewitched cocktail bars, fine-dining restaurants, and all those who’ve interacted with the brand either through social media, its on-premise events or other liquid-to-lips experiences.
Sweet Gwendoline French Gin is fun and playful, its stories erotic and stylish —it is a brand that flourishes within the aesthetics of fetish, fashion and a premium spirits context.
It's enjoyed by gin lovers, fashionistas, and those who value liberty, freedom of expression and living life as the bold provocateur…
Brand development and Brand Book builds
Tone of voice and brand language
Why the blindfolds at a Sweet Gwendoline French Gin event?
Dita Von Teese image by Albert Sanchez
Event photography by Alejandra Guerrer and Natasha Gornnik
Visual assets created by Nick Paparone
Do get in touch if you're interested in finding out what I might be able to do for your brand.