Smirnof hero

Smirnoff reclaims its name and stakes its claim

If you were drinking anything in the 90s and early 2000s, it was probably vodka. Leading the charge, was the world’s number 1, Smirnoff. With its award-winning taste, Smirnoff was a benchmark for purity and smoothness.

But with purity as the goal, it quickly became a race to the bottom for inoffensiveness. In celebrating what wasn’t there, purity turned to emptiness, minimalism and a lack of substance.

Client

Smirnoff

Studio

New York, London

Expertise

Brand & Creative Strategy, Brand Identity, Packaging Design
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In stripping back, Smirnoff surrendered the proud markers of its rich heritage and true quality. Gradually, this total visual dilution shrunk Smirnoff’s name, meaning and relevance.
  • Emma Follett
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Now a wall-flower in bars and with a bottom-shelf feel, Smirnoff felt more like an imposter “own brand.” Confused drinkers turned away. In the name of simplification, Smirnoff didn’t stand for anything.

But Smirnoff had earned its name through a journey that spanned Russian Czars to Hollywood bars. It put vodka on the map as ‘white whiskey.’ Stirred up the cocktail revolution with the Moscow Mule. And it was the star drop in James Bond’s shaken-never-stirred martini.

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Central to Smirnoff’s return to the spotlight was rebuilding its historic integrity through the details of its bold beginnings. First and foremost, the family name. After all, only Smirnoff could claim its substance and hard-won history.

A redrawn signature and remastered eyebrow celebrated the pioneers behind the icon once more. And then, to the shield, Smirnoff’s symbol from the start. Restoring its glory but leaving it open, rather than ornate, captured the brand’s original intent: to be a vodka for all. And testament to Smirnoff’s enduring quality and momentum, the Smirnoff signature darts through the centre. Finally, the crown caps the bottle to toast its past achievements and the future to come. 

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