A New Label For Jack Daniels

Out with the wordy and in with the…well, less wordy.  I’m a little puzzled.  Maybe it is because Jack Daniels hadn’t changed their label in like forever, but why exactly is this news worthy?  They have just cleaned it up a bit.  They took off the line about Lem Motlow being the proprietor, I suppose that’s good because he has been dead for 64 years.  They also cleaned up a few other things and gave it more black space.  That’s what we need…More Black on the label!  Seriously?  Does anyone really think there wasn’t enough black already?

I don’t know, call it a slow news day, or whatever, but I just don’t get excited about this stuff.  Last year when Old Weller Antique changed their label, no one gave two shakes about the label.  They were concerned because Buffalo Trace took off the 7 Year Age Statement, for fear it would effect the flavor, but the label?  So what?

Conversely when Jack Daniels dropped proof from 90 to 84 no one hardly noticed, same when they again dropped it from 84 to 80.  But change the label?  Now you’re messing with history and tradition!  Please.

Labels are labels and I don’t care if it is a piece of masking tape with Sharpie ink.  What matters to me is on the inside.  And since they have taken the guts out of this once proud Tennessee Whiskey it really doesn’t matter what changes they make to the label.  I’m afraid Brown Foreman is going the way of Bud/Miller/Coors where they are more concerned about what is outside the bottle than they are about what is inside the bottle.  What’s next?  Labels chicks can give you their phone number on?


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46 Comments on “A New Label For Jack Daniels”

  1. johnking82
    May 17, 2011 at 11:29 am #

    Jack Daniels is Tennessee garbage.

    No clue about the direction Brown Foreman is going. It’s right downtown, I can knock and ask for you.

    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 11:31 am #

      Sure, and while you’re at it ask to borrow a cup of sugar… 😉

  2. May 17, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    Losing those lines enhances the legibility of the remaining copy, which is a good thing. That’s especially true since it’s white copy on black background (it’s called “reverse type”, and it usually has HORRIBLE legibility).

    That said… did anybody read that crap before? Were there prospective whiskey buyers looking at the JD label, deciding to make a purchase, before yelling out, “Lew Motlow?!? I’d buy his shit any day!!!”? No. That didn’t happen.

    Also notable- they de-emphasized Tennessee. On the side of the label, it used to say “MADE IN TENNESSEE” in huge bold letters. Additionally, they had their decorative dingbats on the front of the label (those two sideways diamond things) framed around the script “Tennessee”. Now, the decorative elements are on “Sour Mash” on the front, while the side font talking about Tennessee is newer, more modern, and smaller. De-emphasized, less legible.

    I like the general idea of simplifying things and making them cleaner. It’s a good rule of thumb with design- the less copy you have, and the less busy it is, the better it’ll look. Less is more. I just sort of question their motives behind doing it. I don’t think their aim was to get “cleaner” but instead to emphasize certain things.

    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 11:52 am #

      Interesting perspective John, especially your last observation that you don’t think cleaning up the label was paramount in their thinking with the redesign. I know there is a lot of psychology in this crap, but it is wasted on me. I think press releases should be saved for when they make a change to the whiskey, not when the monkey with the label.

      • May 17, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

        Looks like Will said what I was saying, but he said it more efficiently. He kept it simple, stupid, while I blathered on and on.

        One thing that I think is most important with the change is that JD stayed very true to their brand. Black label, white copy, ornamental crap all over the place, script “Tennessee”… When you see these things, you instantly realize it’s Jack Daniels. And none of those things changed.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

          Yeah, I would call this a “slight” makeover.

  3. May 17, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Being a designer, this is right up my alley. I agree that first and foremost what’s inside counts most, but the quality of label design should match its contents. Although the days when I thought Jack was a good whiskey can be numbered in the decades.

    I like the new label, it adheres to the two best design mantras; KISS (keep it simple stupid), and less is more.

    As far as labels being labels, Don, what about Laughing Dog’s Rocket Dog RIPA label you wrote about a few months ago? 😉

    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 11:55 am #

      OK Will, you caught me red handed! I guess this would be like if Fred kept the old rocket dog label, but just cleaned up some text. There isn’t anything new here, at least not to me. And I am certainly of the belief that this label design change will not have one iota of change to their sales. I just question their motives.

      • May 17, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

        I agree that it probably won’t affect sales. The change could be as simple as an Exec or Creative Director wanting to put their “stamp” on the brand that will live on after them (to be replaced by the next CEO or CD after them). I’ve seen it happen before, and have been involved with some brand and label redesigns; the motives don’t always make sense.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

          Oh, its like Steve Carell in “The Office”. Just putting his fingers in everybody’s pies.

  4. May 17, 2011 at 11:47 am #

    Agreed. I wouldn’t get excited about this barely evolutional alteration. Having said that. If you do it wrong or even not quite right—especially with a very established brand Like JD—people get their panties in a big wad. Most recent example was The Gap. There was a huge public relations “Gap-lash” over that recent brand identity evolution.

    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 11:57 am #

      Really? Are people going to stop going to the Gap because of a PR SNAFU? I mean is it isn’t like the president of the company was caught with kiddie porn on his laptop. I would guess the fact that the sell jeans for kids that cost $55 is probably more to blame for lagging sales than some lame ads.

      • May 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

        No. Certainly not. And I didn’t say that I would stop shopping there. Just saying that it costs a fair amount of money and time to overhaul a big, established brand identity like that. To put it out there and have the masses (your customers) shit on it, and you, because it sucks is not good. First and foremost, it makes your company look like it doesn’t know what the fuck it’s doing. Which, like it or not, reflects poorly on your brand. Then of course, you have to tuck your tail between your legs, eat all that money and go back to the old look. Or go back to square one and spend a shit-load of money all over again to get something customers do approve of.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

          I see your point. That is why I think if you find something that works you should milk it to death! Think Polmolive and Madge with her “you know you’re soaking in it” tag line, or Mr. Whipple and don’t squeeze the Charmin. Speaking of which, don’t you think Alton Brown would make a fantastic remake for the Mr. Whipple ads? He’s available!

        • May 17, 2011 at 12:46 pm #

          Ha! He does look a bit like a hip Mr. Whipple, Don! Although, for some time now he’s been associated with what goes into your mouth. Not what comes out of your ass. Might have a conflict there!

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

          Some may see it as a natural progression of one’s career! 🙂

  5. May 17, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I had a glass of Woodford last night and a glass of Old Forester Signature Sunday and I can safely say they still have the goods working inside the bottles. I’ve never been a Jack fan so as long as BF doesn’t mess with Woodford/Old Forester I’ll be happy. That and as long as they are still selling a lot of stuff (my wife works there so I want the company to do well).

    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Well Beau, I hope they never change formulas for the bourbons you like. I still don’t understand why they lowered the proof on JD. It used to be a much more robust and satisfying drink than it is today. Just watered down biker swill.

      • May 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

        Yea, I’ve always preferred my bourbons with a bit of bite to them. Maybe that’s why Jack (I’m guessing I’ve only tried the new recipe) was never really my cup of tea. My only issue now is trying to convince my wife not to get mad when I buy other company’s bourbons. I mean I really like Woodford/OF, but variety is the spice of life, you know?

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

          Here is what you do Beau, tell her its research! You want to make sure that the quality of Brown Foreman’s bourbon offerings stand up to the competition. I know it sounds silly, but I bet you use it! 🙂

        • May 17, 2011 at 12:33 pm #

          Yep, I’ve used it. She really doesn’t care too much but will make every attempt to give me a hard time whenever she sees me pick up a bottle of something else. And lets be honest… someone like Sazarec (1792 Ridgemont Reserve is one of my fav bourbons for the money) really isn’t too big of a threat to BF.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:35 pm #

          Yes, but if you want to give her a heart attack get a bottle of Old Weller Antique from Buffalo Trace, or Pappy Van Winkle. That ought to give her a start!

        • May 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

          I was dead set (and had permission) to get a bottle of Pappy 15 (I prefer it to the 20) but it sold out before I could get to the store to get it. Oh well. Maybe next year.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

          Oh Beau, that is a dangerous road to go down, asking permission to buy different whiskeys. You need to start a blog my friend. Built in excuse!

        • May 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

          Already have one, though it’s a craft beer blog. Bourbon was my original alcohol love and I still enjoy a nice bourbon neat more than ever.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

          Well you could do a Bourbon and Beer Blog. Just think, never ever another cross ways glance or disapproving look! Ha…Ha…Am I right?

        • May 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm #

          You make a solid point though I may not want to risk the current set-up. I mean I pretty much have free reign when it comes to my beer spending (well, she trusts that I don’t overdo it is a better way to put it) and I still get free Woodford/OF. I can think of far worse things in life.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

          Of the two bourbons you are allowed to drink freely, which do you like better?

        • May 17, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

          I may be the only one, but I might have to go with Old Forester Signature. I like the increased bite and slightly more “rough” profile. It’s my cup of tea. I can’t wait to get my hand on a bottle of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon when it comes back out. I love Woodford, but if you made me choose I might have to pick the Signature.

        • johnking82
          May 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

          you guys need to get a room.

        • May 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm #

          Interesting Beau that you picked the OF. I’ve never had it, but I’ve read a ton of reviews on it and based upon those I think I might go that way as well. I have had quite a bit of the Woodford Reserve, and I think because of how they age it in the climate controlled warehouse and cycle it several times a year, it has great flavor, but lacks a depth. That depth of flavor and robustness is where I feel that bourbon gets its quality. So while Wodfords definitely gets the barrel flavor it misses out on the depth because it doesn’t spend enough time in the barrel. Just my opinion, but I’m guessing I would prefer the OF myself.

        • Don
          May 17, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

          Oops, forgot to log in!

        • May 17, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

          Well you definitely need to give OF a try. I recommend the Signature (100 proof) over the standard (86 proof). And while I haven’t had Birthday Bourbon, I hear its great. Regardless, you need to get your hands on some.

        • Don
          May 18, 2011 at 9:14 am #

          Unfortunately they don’t sell it in my state. I’ll have to try and pick some up in my travels.

        • May 18, 2011 at 11:54 am #

          That sucks. You know though, alcohol can be shipped….

        • Don
          May 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

          Now…Hmm…If there was just some benevolent reader that could get his hands on some…Hmmm… 😉

        • May 18, 2011 at 1:46 pm #

          you know, I bet if you tried hard enough you could find one…

      • May 19, 2011 at 7:39 am #

        Don, shoot me an email and we can discuss. bwalker82@gmail.com

  6. May 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Yo Don!

    I’ve never been a fan of JD, and since I never liked it, I never paid much attention to the ABV listed on the bottle. The ROK however has noted the steady decline of their ABV over the years and switched from JD to Maker’s Mark (this was some time ago). Putting the standard issue JD aside (swill), I have heard that the Gentleman Jack is rather tasty. Thoughts?


    • Don
      May 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

      Actually G, I know you might find this hard to believe, but I’ve never had the Gentleman Jack! I have, however, had their single barrel whiskey and that is a very good whiskey, but a little spendy for an every day drinker.

      • May 17, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

        Not sure I’ve seen the single barrel JD around. Then again, I haven’t been looking either. 🙂

  7. ScottG
    May 17, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    I thought it interesting that it goes from being “Quality Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” to just “Tennessee Sour Mash Whiskey” which highlights the point the a-holes at Brown Foreman care less about its quality and more about its marketability. I would’ve thought the former somewhat led to the latter, but apparently I would have been wrong.

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 9:13 am #

      I noticed that too Scott. I guess they are going more with truth in advertising with the new label.

  8. May 18, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    I read somewhere that although the label is changing, “the whisky inside the bottle will be the same as ever”.

    Oh dear.

    • Don
      May 18, 2011 at 9:15 am #

      I don’t know how they can say that since the whiskey inside has changed quite a bit for the worse over the last 20 years.

  9. June 26, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Love the info, keep it coming.
    I love Jack Daniel’s, hopefully they don’t change to much.
    Right now i am working on my Jack Daniel’s collection of merchandise.


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