Getting Western: Prepping a Beloved Local Brand for a National Stage

Willie’s Distillery captures the West in every bottle.

This small batch distillery, based in Ennis, Montana, was one of the first of its kind to pop up in Montana. Willie’s quickly gained local popularity, becoming a leader in the distillery movement. Renowned for their Western-inspired spirits, every Willie’s product is made from natural, local ingredients — Montana grains, honey and native berries, along with a good dose of heart and soul.

Willie’s Distillery

We sought to position Willie’s as “Western” without getting into “Howdy, pardner” clichés.

We paired Willie’s delectable spirits with brand-relevant content and graphical elements—such as old maps, gritty typography, and iconic Montana wildlife. From there, we orchestrated a photo shoot to capture the details on each bottle, details of poured cocktails to add accent color to each still life image, and snappy ad copy.

 

“We’ve worked with AMS for more than two years. In that time, they’ve helped us rebrand in every way, developing all our new bottle designs and creating all new campaigns for our products. Their approach is top-notch and I would recommend them to any company looking for a fresh creative direction.”
– Les Terrell, Willie’s Distillery

Scope of Project
  • Brand Exploration
  • Brand Assets
  • Campaign Development
  • Imagery & Taglines
  • Packaging
  • Copywriting
Awards
  • Gold – Denver International Spirits 2017 Packaging Awards
  • Gold – Denver International Spirits 2017 Packaging Awards
  • Gold – Illustration 2016 MT ADDY Awards
  • Best of Show 2015 MT ADDY Awards
  • Gold – Campaign 2015 MT ADDY Awards

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Goal


The ultimate goal was to position Willie’s as of equal quality as national, non-craft brands. Willie’s needed the branding assets to convey a clear image of their product and the mountain culture it sought to represent. The brand needed thoughtful, cohesive materials to reach a national scale of play.

Hurdles


We needed to find a fresh take on “Western”, one of the most over-played genres in North American marketing. We also sought to steer away from tropes of contemporary micro-distilleries, which often speak through the language and imagery of “hipsters”.

Approach


The visual elements selected for Willie’s entire product line reflect the natural and local values of their distilling process along with an authentic Western heritage. We chose images of wildlife, cowboys, and gritty type and paired these crisp images of mixed drinks and bottles.

Result

A small Montana-born brand, ready to take on the American West.

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