‘X’ marks the spot for Lodi wine branding

Lodi Wine Winegrape Commission executive director Stuart Spencer presents the WInegrape Commission's new marketing brand for the region during the Wingrape Commission's meeting at Hutchins Street Square in Lodi Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020.

The Lodi Winegrape Commission unveiled a new marketing brand for the region which growers and winemakers hope will put more than 70 wineries and tasting rooms on a larger map.

Last year, the commission embarked on a mission to drop the long-used ‘LoCA’ branding and create a new message that would make Lodi known around the world, bringing greater success to the winegrape growers and winemakers of the region.

Stuart Spencer, the commission’s executive director, said he and his staff surveyed and interviewed 30 stakeholders in the Lodi appellation, and established a 10-person committee to guide the plan.

The commission and its marketing committee teamed with San Francisco-based creative agency, Rindal & Co., to come up with the simple and straight-to-the-point “Lodi Wine California.”

Stewart unveiled the new brand, which includes an “X” logo of intersecting orange and magenta lines that represent vineyard rows. The intersecting lines also symbolize the convergence of winemakers and grape growers, Stewart said.

“It was quite clear throughout the surveys and all the interviews that branding was at the center of our future success,” he said. “And we needed Lodi to mean something if we were going to continue to be successful in the years to come.”

For years, the Lodi Winegrape Commission had used the LoCA brand to promote the region, but Stewart said while the former marketing tool was successful, it was time for a change and to get back to the roots that make Lodi and its wines unique.

“We wanted a logo that symbolizes its people and place,” he said. “So we came up with this, which symbolizes that Lodi is the perfect spot for growing grapes. And they’re the best grapes in the world.”

As for the “Lodi Wines California” portion of the brand, Stewart said the purpose was to make Lodi front and center, and make it recognized in the world of wine as commissioners travel around the world.

“This is our consumer market,” he said. “This is what we do when we’re communicating with the world about our wines, or communicating with the trade media. This is about where the grapes come from, what they go into and what the consumer can enjoy.”

Over the course of the next year, Stewart said the commission will begin offering brand decals for the exterior of vehicles and cell phone popsockets with the “X” logo.

The commission may also consider placing large orange and magenta banners on downtown light poles to promote its presence in the area.

In addition, new maps with a directory of all 61 wineries and 10 tasting rooms in the area will be offered at the Lodi Visitors Center, as well as at all wineries.

Eric Rindal of Rindal & Co. helped the commission design its new brand. His company has helped Levi Strauss brand a new line of jeans for stores like Walmart and Target, and helped basketball legend and hall of famer Michael Jordan brand his own restaurant.

Rindal said the commission’s new brand will be brought to life through a ‘storytelling’ campaign that will spotlight each of the wineries on the new map and directory.

“It’s really an idea to tell people that ‘something’s happening in Lodi,’ and that is something each winery can put on a bottle of wine,” he said. “I know I’ve heard a lot of people say they’ve heard of Lodi but don’t know where it is. The ‘X’ is really getting Lodi on that map so they know where it is, like X marks the spot. That ‘X’ symbol (in the brand) is a good stamp (the commission) can own.”

Representatives of Lodi’s wine industry were optimistic the new branding would make the region a household name in other parts of the world.

“I think it has potential,” Charlene Lange of LangeTwins Winery said following the presentation. “Certainly the challenge is to get all our winemakers and grape growers to back it. We have great wines here, and the more we can get out there, and the more we have people out there talking about Lodi, the better.”

Aaron Shinn, a winegrape grower at Round Valley Ranches, said the new brand was innovative, and a good representation of where Lodi has been and where it is headed.

“It’s inclusive of all aspects of our industry,” he said. “It’s representative of Lodi’s desire to constantly change and be cutting edge. Always being innovative and changing helps us to be relevant in the wine market.”

Winegrape grower Craig Ledbetter of Vino Farms was on the committee that helped design the new brand. He said LoCA, the commission’s former marketing brand, helped Lodi make a name for itself in California and other parts of the country, but it had run its course.

“The thing we do that differentiates us (from other regions), is our ability to be progressive and adapt to change,” he said. “LoCA was good, and it did what it was supposed to do, which was create a presence for us. But now we’ve grown up, and we have a new brand that really gives us a name on the playing field.”

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