How alcohol-free got a refresh

Non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip has kickstarted a new category, blending 17th century distillation techniques with botanical-themed design to win drinkers over. Here’s how the brand reinvented alcohol-free

The non-alcoholic drinks category can be a disappointing place, filled with watered down versions of the ‘real’ thing and equally lacklustre branding. This despite reports that alcohol consumption is on the downturn, particularly among younger people. However there are signs that brands are starting to notice, and rather than launching alternative versions of existing products, several standalone ‘non-alcoholic spirits’ have popped up. Seedlip, which launched in 2015, is at the forefront of this movement, having won people over with its promise of gin-like botanical flavours and slick branding by Pearlfisher.

From the start, founder Ben Branson wanted to create a credible alternative rather than a poor imitation. “I characterised Seedlip as a picnic in the woods with Willy Wonka, David Attenborough and James Bond,” he says, of the brand’s mix of quirkiness and sophistication. His approach drew on his family’s 300-year history of farming, but also his father’s career in design. Branson describes Seedlip as his change to “bring both brand and land together”, fully aware that developing the right packaging, as well as flavours, would be essential in winning over bartenders, restaurants and drinkers. With a limited marketing budget that couldn’t compete with giant drink brands, Branson also knew design was a chance to stand out from the crowd.