In early 2014, Black Diamond Spirits approached us to help them build their brand of high-end vodka. Our main goal was to develop the artwork for the vodka bottle. From that came a complete identity and conceptual theme that serve as the foundation for the Black Diamond Vodka brand.

Black Diamond Vodka began when the founders, already successful in the diamond industry, wanted to break into the spirits market. Realizing that uncut black diamonds serve as a superior substitute to charcoal for filtering vodka, they jumped on the chance to merge their interests in diamonds and spirits.

The challenge was taking this initial idea and turning it into a brand with substance without any gimmick. We approached the challenge from a couple of directions.

One direction was focused on the material, the black diamond, also known as carbonado. Black diamonds have an interesting history with unknown origins, some theories suggesting they come from outer space. They are also considered the “bastard of the diamond industry,” seen as impure and not an object of desire like its vibrant, clear counterparts.

Our second approach was more figurative. What kind of imagery, themes, or stories come to mind when thinking about black diamonds, or diamonds in general? One idea was based on a black briefcase, secured to someones wrist by handcuff, so often depicted in spy or heist movies.

With these ideas we developed sketches for logos. Initially these ideas were treated as separate concepts. We developed some logo’s based on the diamond, and some based on a briefcase and handcuff. We decided that the marks that were based on the diamond were iconically stronger, but we wanted to retain the conceptual strength of the suitcase idea which is where the key imagery gets introduced.

The key makes reference to value, security, mystery, and opportunity. We saw it as a perfect tool that would serve as the beginning of a bigger story without directly referencing something like a briefcase or safe deposit box, elements that will potentially be used in marketing and packaging. Imagine a dramatic commercial where someone is desperately trying to protect a briefcase handcuffed to their wrist, possibly containing the Black Diamond. In this context the key starts to make more sense, the story begins to unfold.

The diamond icon that was ultimately selected looks more like a crown than a diamond which came from researching basic alchemy. Diamonds are considered one of the purest natural elements on earth. This purity led us to a distillation of elements down to the most basic four: water, earth, air, fire. All four elements are needed to make diamonds, all four elements are also needed to produce vodka. Both diamonds and vodka are characterized for their purity. The alchemic symbolism for the basic elements is composed of intersecting triangles, resembling the Star of David. Our interpretation of these triangles into a crown reflected prestige, aspiration, and closer resembled the cuts of a finished diamond.

These elements come together to create a mysterious story that will slowly unfold as the brand grows.

Client: Black Diamond Spirits
Location: Los Angeles, Ca
Medium: Variable
Team: Randal Hollis (direction, design); Tony Martinez (account manager); Jordan Stark (creative direction)