BD Creative, the new name for Barlow Doherty: Wine Label and Food Packaging Design, Branding and Marketing Creative Agency, West London


London Town

Design, WineVanessa BarlowComment

This month we have been celebrating all things London. It is its breadth of culture that breathes individual life into each and every corner, giving areas and boroughs their own distinctive story to tell.

We were thrilled to be asked to design and produce the assets for Ramón Bilbao’s London Adventure and party. Celebrating their range of exciting wines and the high altitude the distinctive grapes are grown at. The London Adventure encapsulated a mysterious tour of the City, sampling delicious food and wine in a trail of restaurants that revealed themselves as the locations were unravelled.

Our brief was to provide some stylish and useful tools to help people do just that - a map, guide, Oyster card, passport and leather travel wallet were just the ticket, all with Ramon's brand identity and story woven in.

The party ended up at Sky Garden, 155 metres up, the perfect high altitude spot, where Ramón's wines would feel right at home.

London, we salute you.

Is it Okay to Drink Rosé?

Wine, Things we like, Packaging, DesignVanessa BarlowComment

Last Summer saw the birth of a new trend which just keeps growing: Brosé, defined quite simply as men who aren't afraid to drink rosé. In fact, men made it their everyday tipple and joined consumers in doubling sales of rosé across many retailers.

The irony of the societal assumption that pink is for girls only, is that in the 18th century children wore white clothing up until the age of 6. In the early 1900s media decreed boys should wear pink and girls blue, only for it to be reversed by clothing manufacturers in the 1940s. Pink was then declared a 'pretty' colour for girls and god forbid what would happen to your child if you didn't follow the new rules.

Brosé is a social media campaign which took a hybrid of the name Frosé, the delicious on trend frozen cocktail, to mark their 'we are not afraid to drink pink' mission. We decided to have a Frosé evening to announce the start of Summer. Having recently purchased a Nutribullet for the studio it seemed BD appropriate to see if its cocktail making skills matched its green smoothie prowess.

The result was utterly delicious and embraced fully by all the males in the Studio (although to be fair they had been on the rosé drinking wagon for some time).

So yes, it is most definitely okay to drink rosé and we plan to keep our rosé tinted glasses on all Summer long.


Storytelling The German Way

Design, Food, Things we like, WineVanessa BarlowComment

The end of this week sees the start of ProWein 2017. The biggest international wine and spirits trade fair. We will be heading to Dusseldorf to investigate new trends and feed our creative juices.

At BD, the question we are always asking ourselves is 'How can we stand out in a crowded market?'. Even though it may feel to many that brands have exhausted every possible marketing route, we see only possibility. Creativity is a wonderful thing. In the words of writer and activist Maya Angelou 'You can't use up creativity, the more you use, the more you have.'

Storytelling is part of the creative journey and is the most important aspect of any design and marketing process. In our creative journey, we love to experiment with food and drink ideas to stimulate inspiration. Recently, we have been trialing our own krautchi courtesy of Abel and Cole's DIY kit.

Krautchi is a cross between sauerkraut and kimchi. (Of course). A spicy cabbage fermented dish which is great for your gut as well as your taste buds. Abi and our CFO, Chris, were especially excited by the experimentation and the results were suprisingly unique in texture and taste.

Sauerkraut, as we all know, is a huge part of Germany's story. Fermented foods have a long history in many cultures as a way of preserving foods and maintaining health: Especially sailors, who recognised its benefit in preventing scurvy. Originally a Chinese invention around 2,000 years ago, sauerkraut took root in the German culture during the 1600s and became a staple part of their story. Recipes vary regionally, as does the associated folklore of its benefits. Recent research has shown sauerkraut to have cancer fighting properties.

We are hoping there will be a little sauerkraut discussion at ProWein where we can share our own krautchi making story.

We suggested Chris leaves his Lederhose at home (just this time).





Look Good On Paper

Things we like, Design, Art, PackagingVanessa Barlow1 Comment

Paper is the most historic medium we have to hand in our day-to-day lives. It was invented in ancient China around 200 AD but didn't reach Europe until the 11th Century. The name originates from papyrus; paper in its original form. As our world becomes ever increasingly screen focused, paper holds a unique resonance about it. The touch and smell remind us of who we are and where we came from. It gives our head and hands the opportunity to be free of the constraint of a keyboard or a computer's interpretation of what we actually meant. We are free to create.

Paper offers endless opportunities for design, its texture, strength and flexibility can be utilised to form an array of shapes and products. As global resources become scarcer, paper holds a fascination for the consumer.

Here at BD, we live and breathe paper. Wine labels, brochures, wine lists, food packaging, gift boxes, point of sale... the list is endless. Over the next week we are celebrating all things paper, follow us on Twitter and Instagram and send us your paper inspiration! #LookGoodOnPaper



It's a Dog's Life

Design, Things we likeVanessa BarlowComment

In the BD studio we have a member of staff who has a very creative way of how he likes to work. He has shunned the regular desk and chair option, not for an on-trend stand up desk to improve his muscle tone. But something a little more cozy. A beanbag under a desk.

Indy is our resident studio dog. He is part guard-dog (takes this role a little too seriously sometimes, he is working on that barking thing as part of his appraisal targets), part stress reliever and part creativity booster.

Dogs take whatever comes their way, that tail keeps wagging when the stress levels are rising. Calming and nurturing, they help people relax and re-energise. When we are relaxed and feeling fresh and focused not only do we work better together as a team, we are also more creative. 

In the UK we lag behind the US where around 1 in 5 employers accept dogs at work. However, progressive companies like Google are leading the way. In the US, Etsy has had a dog-friendly office policy since 2005, even going so far as to create a 'canine operation team'. G5 CEO Dan Hobin quotes “Dogs in the office foster friendlier, more collaborative work environments. Everyone rallies around the dogs” In Taiwan, over half of businesses are pet friendly.

The annual Chiswick Dog Show is a local charity event we enjoy supporting to raise funds for the historic Chiswick House and grounds. We created their branding and did some debating (low level arguing) over who got to be the volunteer in the puppy pen. Hannah won btw.

So come on, UK, lets make it a dogs life at work and at play.




Beauty and Intelligence: Standing out in a Digital World

Spirits, Wine, DesignVanessa BarlowComment


At BD, we not only understand how key it is to be online, we also know that a beautifully designed website can make all the difference to how your customers, potential customers and the world views and thinks of your brand or product.

The first port of call for most people when seeking information or services is to look online and there are very few countries or cultures where this is not the case. In fact, over 46% of the world’s population now have an internet connection – a monumental transformation from just 20 years ago when it was less than 1%!

You can see why having a digital presence is pretty important.

And when we say ‘beautifully designed’, we mean designed to function seamlessly for all users, whether on a mobile, tablet or desktop computer, and that looks aesthetically brilliant too!

We go above and beyond the label to create websites that shine a light on your brand and, most importantly, communicate your product to the world.

Take a look at the slideshow to see some of the clients we have helped with their websites and landing pages. Please email us if you would like any more information about our digital services.


London Wine Fair - The Debrief

Design, PackagingVanessa BarlowComment

We talked, we shared, we tasted, we enthused, we learned and we were inspired.

Then, we sat down to rest and drank a glass or three.

Another brilliant and busy London Wine Fair discussing what we can do to help your brand: Showcasing some of our latest packaging designs, wine labels, branding, web-design and all things in-between.

To celebrate our 18th birthday (hence we were legally allowed those drinks) we published the first print issue of The Digestif - our already very popular online newsletter: Sharing ideas and inspiration on how to maximise the marketing potential of your food or drink brand. If you would like a copy posted please email

On the stand, we previewed the new additions to our successful 'Wine Art' - a range of posters designed by the ever creative BD studio design team, each depicting a different grape variety. New additions include :Touriga Nacional, Viognier, Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Tempranillo. We are always open to suggestions to explore different grape varieties so let us know any you would like to see!

Thank you to everyone who came by to see us. We had fun.

Looking forward to a busy rest of 2016.




The London Wine Fair

Design, Art, Packaging, WineVanessa BarlowComment

An old Chinese proverb says 'I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.'

'Doing' is vital to our design process. The more we explore by making ideas real, the more we gain creatively and commercially.

The Studio is buzzing with 'doing', energy and anticipation in preparation for the 2016 London Wine Fair. Our team of designers and illustrators have had an additional project to fuel their individual creative prowess: The second range of our much loved 'Wine Art' posters. Every poster in the 'Wine Art' range depicts a different grape variety. Our launch collection last year explored Viognier, Shiraz and Riesling. This year we have another five to add to the mix. Here is a sneak preview of three from the new range to whet your palate:

'The Chardonnay Smackdown' by Hannah Watkinson

The most famous vine variety of all. From the apple-crisp Chablis to the tropical fruit flavours of an Australian Chardonnay, this grape is grown worldwide. Who would win the battle on your tastebuds?

'The Zinfandel Controversy' by Scott Wrigg

Follow Agoston Haraszthy, ‘the father of modern Californian winemaking’, as he traverses the world in his quest to bring the Zinfandel grape to the west coast of America. Adventure, drama
and intrigue all play a part in this unique true story…is that a crocodile on the horizon?

'Touring Inter-Nacional' by Miguel De Almeida

Touriga Nacional is a truly international grape variety. It has travelled around the world (California, South Africa, Australia), via its native Portuguese seafarers. Explore the taste and heritage of this global explorer: Touriga. Where will it land next?

'Wine Art' can be viewed at the London Wine Fair, Olympia, May 3rd-5th, Stand J58. The new posters will be available to buy online from May 6th. Prices from £16.50.




Packaging, WineVanessa BarlowComment

We are thrilled to see Pompita Sangria finally in bottle. As their creative partners, we've taken a bold approach by rethinking size, bottle, rationale and design. The premium sangria recipes are inspired by the stories of key Spanish cities and owner Mick Messum's love of Spanish culture. A project we were super inspired and excited to work on; we developed the brand name and positioning, designed the label and packaging as well as creating their website.

Our in house illustrator and designer Scott is also a comic strip artist; he applied his talent to create a bold and unique design for Pompita. Each bottle tells the story behind the Spanish city the recipe came from. The passion of Barcelona, the majesty of Madrid, eclectic Ibiza and the beauty of Valencia each illustrated with their own unique design.

Crack open a bottle, add a chunk of lemon or orange and enjoy over ice. Salud!

Do It Differently

Packaging, Design, WineVanessa BarlowComment

It is not often in life that we can call a “classic’, in the world of wine, a bottle which resembles an other worldy life form: Something astronaut Tim Peake would have enjoyed with his newly created Heston menu whilst staring down to earth from The International Space Station.

Pendulum came to life fifteen years ago and at the time responded to a brief of creating impact. Luckily, our interpretation of impact paid off, sales were huge and many spin offs appeared as a result. When discussing a brand’s success we need to think about making a difference: Delivering great design that steers your brand away from the rest yet evocative of your products values.

In packaging, colour is the first way to get a buyer’s attention, and the most successful ones become more than a classic, they become iconic. The orange Veuve Clicquot non vintage Champagne label is actually trademarked such is its power in naming its identity.

Marlon Brando was always looking for ways to shake up the status quo, in his 2015 documentary Listen To Me Marlon, the urgency for difference runs through the audio tapes he made “Never let the audience know how it’s gonna come out. Get them on your time ... Hit ’em. Knock ’em over with an attitude, with a word, with a look. Be surprising. Figure out a way to do it that has never been done before.”

 And Marlon became a classic too. He stood out and lived life large; true to himself and his beliefs. Subsequently hailed as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time: That’s impact right there.

 “I’m going to have a special microphone placed in my coffin, so that when I wake up in there, six feet under the ground, I’m going to say: ‘do it differently’.’’

Be Bold, Be Bright, Be Sold

Design, Packaging, Spirits, WineVanessa BarlowComment

The BD studios New Year resolution has been to push one of our company values 'bravery', to the foreground. It is an important time for brands to go the extra mile and stand out from the crowd.

Innovation is constantly disrupting the marketplace and consumers are becoming increasingly savvy. By embracing bravery, whilst respecting your brands story, you will undoubtedly improve your in-store presence and gain on-shelf consumer attraction.

Wine advertising is only 7% of what is spent on beer so your moment to market your product is almost exclusively on the shelf. New research on bottle design from the US by Nielsen showed that 64% of consumers are trying a new product simply because the packaging catches their eye. Inspiring design is not just key to sales, it is vital.

The research went on to show that 77% more consumers will see wines that use bright, bold designs. Some of these brands keep people's attention for more than twice the time of other bottles. If your wine retails below $20 the research proves that adventurous labels and capsules using bright colours, especially red, orange and gold work best. The same applies for wines above $20, a category known for believing that traditional branding sells premium products: It isn’t always the case.

It has never been a greater time to take on board the saying that Fortune Favours The Brave.


Being Brave

Vanessa BarlowComment

We can no longer rely on discounting to lead wine retail sales, regardless (and in part, due to) the growth in sales of the discounters themselves, Lidl and Aldi. Margins and SKUs are dwindling and that combined with a savvy modern consumer has meant we need to reach outside of our comfort zones and forge new ideas.

A recent trip to Sweden by BD Account Manager, Stephi, highlighted the need to find new ways to embrace shelf presence. This involves being brave. In Sweden, alcohol is confined to Government controlled stores and advertising at any level is restricted. The brands that do best take the constraints put upon them and use them to their advantage to stand out in-store. As Charles Eames famously quotes: “design depends largely on constraints." Silk flowers and ribbons adorn bottles and labels pack a punch. The marketing constraint of being limited to purely shelf presence has bred new and boldly creative ideas.

Bravery can take shape in different ways; context for your brand is vital. But take the new constraints that face us and use them to step out of your norm. In the words of an old Chinese proverb, "Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still."

By Appointment Only

Design, Packaging, WineVanessa BarlowComment


Complexity has become our new reality. Back in 2001, futurist Ray Kurzweil claimed: “We won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century – it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).” Technology is propelling us into new and inspiring possibilities.

We increasingly crave simplicity and authenticity; the hipster has evolved into the urban woodsman in a quest to escape the constant whir of the screen and seek connection with earthier mediums. A sub culture of crafters has developed in recent times, making millions of handmade craft objects at home. The online retail craft leaders Etsy and Folksy both report huge increases in sales in their marketplaces. Folksy, which launched in 2008 and focuses exclusively on UK designers and makers, says sales increased by 526% from June 2009 to June 2012.

Our new design for Royal Tokaji, 'By Appointment Only' reflects this desire for authenticity and experimentation. A limited edition range of wines with only 50 cases being released for each wine. A range that avoids the complexity of modern retailing; quality wines that are simple yet unique.


Design, Packaging, WineVanessa BarlowComment

The clocks go back and November kicks in. It is time to light the fire, get cosy and plan bonfire night: Gunpowder, colour and fun.

Infierno adds a little sparkle into the dark, cold nights. Our colourful redesign for an intense, full-bodied Spanish red from Yecla, one of the hottest parts of Spain. Coming soon to Laithwaites.

Understand Your Brand Values

Design, Things we likeVanessa BarlowComment

Innovation and social technology has given the consumer the ability to call the shots. Understanding your business’s values and expressing them in an honest and meaningful way has never been so vital: “The sooner a company tries to be what it is not, the sooner it tries to 'have it all', the sooner it will die.” Yves Chouinard, Patagonia.

Your brand’s story is a vital part of sales and marketing. So finding simple marketing solutions that deliver integrity is the key to building profile and attracting attention in an ever more crowded marketplace.

Honing in on a brand’s identity and generating marketing ideas are what we, at BD, love to do. Ideas can be big or small, but they must represent your brand’s values, your audience and what that audience want.

We were inspired by Spotify’s marketing touch when cancelling your subscription. You are delivered a ‘goodbye, but can we still be friends’ playlist.

Spotify have successfully added meaningful value to their customer experience yet have been true to their identity and values. At the same time they have promoted their services. It’s a win, win.

Almost 20 years ago Steve Jobs recognised this essential business tool: “Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Get clear on your values and share your story, with meaning.

The Wine List

Design, Packaging, WineVanessa BarlowComment

The role of the wine list has been challenged over the last few years. Wine merchants questioning whether their budget is better spent elsewhere. We feel that in a digital world, the price list is even more important than ever. Why? Because it is an in-hand tool to showcase a wine business and be a physical presence in customers offices. It's a brilliant 'hello this is us' leave behind and an engaging tool for sales teams. If it's designed and printed well then it should be a key part of any wine trade marketing strategy.

And if you get it right - then winning 'Wine List of the Year 2015' as we did for Hallgarten Druitt at the recent IWC Awards, is the icing on the cake.

Alexander McQueen, 'Savage Beauty'

Art, Design, Things we likeVanessa BarlowComment

It has been a commonly held principle by Italian craftsmen that work should be carried out con diligenza, con studio and con amore; that is, with diligence, study and love. This is an ethic at BD that we aspire and strive to emulate in our work. We look to the great sushi masters, known as Itamae in Japan. It takes up to 20 years to reach the zenith of the sushi chefs. The creation of sushi is an art, and has colourful stories associated with it. A Japanese legend states that the truly great itamae-san ('san' means honourary) should be able to create 'nigirizushi' in which all of the rice grains face the same direction.

The most important lesson this process of mastery teaches us is that first we must "Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist" in the words of Pablo Picasso.

The recent viral like success of Alexander McQueen's exhibition 'Savage Beauty' at the V&A honoured this creative process. McQueen trained as a tailor on Savile Row from the age of 15. He studied and and absorbed the intricacies of fine tailoring and then applied his brilliant creativity to produce collections that will be remembered forever. His passion, knowledge, dedication and uncompromising vision resulted in shows which were works of art. He was a master of story-telling.

The exhibition was brilliantly curated by the V&A's team making every room feel like an all-consuming theatrical experience. The whole exhibition felt 100% experimental and almost emotionally overwhelming in its reflection of McQueen's creative process.

One of McQueen's most famous quotes was "Give me time and I will give you a revolution". Even after his untimely death, his mastery, dedication and passion lives on. A true itamae-san.

Images:  © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Wine Art

Art, Design, Things we like, WineVanessa BarlowComment

The 2015 London Wine Fair was a hub of activity around the BD stand. Centre stage was our collection of prints 'Wine Art'. A series of posters designed by the ever creative BD studio design team, each depicting a different grape variety. The posters generated so much interest on the stand; the most commonly asked question being 'can I buy one?'. So we decided to do just that and make 'Wine Art' available to buy online. Prices from £16.50.

New designs will be added regularly; the inaugural collection includes:

VIOGNIER 'The Road to the Valley of Hell'

The origin of the name Viognier is obscure. This print is inspired by one legend which states that it draws its name from the Roman pronunciation of Via Gehennae, meaning the ‘Road to the Valley of Hell’, an allusion to the difficulty of growing this grape.


SHIRAZ ‘Shiraz, Mate’

Join our hero, James Busby, on a wonderous adventure through the history of Shiraz. Follow the journey of the Syrah grape from the vineyards of France to Australia’s then fledgling vineyards.


RIESLING ‘The King of the German Vineyard’

Widely acknowledged as the king of German vineyards, this often misunderstood variety
is quite unlike any other. Much like the Riesling grape, this king has aged extremely well.

A splendid addition to any wine lover's walls.



Spirits, PackagingVanessa BarlowComment

Armagnac is the oldest brandy distilled in France. Its history included consumption on a medicinal basis and claimed to have 40 virtues from curing gout, healing wounds, preserving youth to enlivening spirits. The latter is one we can definitely agree on.

We were thrilled to have worked on two ranges of Armagnac, Château de Hontambère and The Rare Armagnac Collection. Château de Hontambère is a limited edition luxury Armagnac from 1979. Our branding reflects its uniqueness; the label and cap evocative of its golden hues and refined taste. Château de Hontambère sits alongside The Rare Armagnac Collection; a range of 6 Armagnacs produced using traditional methods; one-off bottlings from small producers, not normally readily available outside of the region.

The long heritage of Hontambère is represented in the symbol we created – inspired by the beautiful water source and history of Hontambère which combined with artisanal skill produces an aromatic, authentic Armagnac of purity and elegance.

Château de Hontambère and The Rare Armagnac Collection both tell a story ofthe alchemy of Armagnac. A mythical theory of turning common metals into gold. From the copper of the still, which the Armagnac is produced in, to the golden tones of the final product. 

Turning copper to gold is another virtue we can add to the list of the elixir that Armagnac is.


Vanessa BarlowComment

The word ‘Verjus’ simply derives from the word ‘vert jus’ meaning green juice.  Not the green juice we see in every smoothie bar in town but a delicious and useful condiment made from pressed unripe grapes. Verjus was widely used in Medieval times in sauces, soups and to deglaze. It offers a gentler acidic touch to dishes compared to vinegar or lemon juice, so the flavours are better balanced.

Food packaging is something the studio gets excited by and we were thrilled to be asked to design a label for Nathan Outlaw's new Verjus for Levin Wines. The grapes are grown on Levin Wine’s certified organic vineyards in the Loire Valley. They follow traditional farming and production methods to produce a handcrafted, organic and sustainable Verjus which has a distinctive flavour and aroma.

The design we created uses Hannah's beautiful illustration of a vine intertwined with foods, which when combined with slick and elegant branding, courtesy of Miguel, really brings the brand to life.

“I use this organic, handpicked, green grape Verjus as a gentle, balancing acidity in my cooking. This ancient, natural ingredient is perfect to poach fish, chicken or fruit, for seafood and salad dressings and roasted meat" explains Outlaw. Our first venture with Verjus is to be this marinated Brill recipe...will keep you posted with our green juice cuisine developments.

Verjus Marinated Brill Sashimi Style

Serves 4

600g fresh brill fillet, skinned
200ml Verjus
2 chopped shallots
1 tbsp tarragon, chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
100ml olive oil
Salt and pepper

Using a sharp knife slice the brill as thinly as possible and lay it out in a dish with raised sides. Place the shallots and Verjus into a pan and reduce the liquid by half over a medium heat. Let the liquid cool and add the herbs, olive oil and seasoning. Pour all the mixture over the fish and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Serve as a starter or pre-starter plate.