My view is that limited success is the enemy of real success. Many wineries are selling enough wine that they just keep going with their current strategies, even though these are not optimal, and are actually limiting their future success.
The problem is that when things are sort of working, people are reluctant to make the changes that they need to make for true progress. There are many potentially great wine businesses that will never fulfill their potential because they are doing OK.
For example, I recently visited a winery that is doing quite well. They are family owned and their success has allowed them to buy more wineries. The result is that they have a confusing portfolio, with a number of sub-brands and different winery names, all in the same sub-region. I can’t work out which sub-brand belongs to which winery, and there’s a lot of duplication in their range.
The winemaking is very good, and the wines taste great. The packaging is OK but not great, and – as with many wineries – their various websites are terrible. They seem to have grown organically, with no real strategy. Their problem? They are doing OK, so what could potentially be a great winery with a strong international reputation is actually an OK winery with good domestic sales.
What this winery needs to do is to start again with their branding and communications strategy, consolidating their range and deciding which name they are going to build their brand equity in: preferably the winery name. As they have a few wineries in the region, it would make sense to bring them under one banner, and cut out the duplicates, making a compact range of wines under a single winery brand.
This would save the duplication of effort. This would give them a great chance to get an excellent designer in and help them build the visual element of their brand. They could then begin an effective communications strategy with one good, modern website (no flash!) and an effective social media plan.
This sort of approach could help create something great, rather than something that is merely good. But it would require courage and vision. I suspect that the limited success that they currently enjoy will prevent them from pursuing this sort of approach, and will keep them merely bolting on and adapting the existing structure on the fly, rather than tearing it down to begin again. Limited success is so often the enemy of true success. Sadly, the period of limited success is just the time to start the hard work of rethinking branding strategy. Once you get to crisis, which is normally the time people are forced to rethink their approach, it is too late, because there are neither the time nor funds available to set about this rebuilding strategy.