NAPA -- A new firm in Napa wants to help small wineries wineries not only craft their packaging design but also develop brand strategy and marketing, better manage their logistics and get more Internet exposure.

4parts Design (www.4partsdesign.com, 415-339-0281), the brainchild of a fine-wine cork distributor and local experts in wine label design and printing, started early last year and now works with about 100 wineries. Clients include Don Sebastiani & Sons and sister companies The Other Guys and Mia's Kitchen in Sonoma, Folio Fine Wine Partners in Napa, high-end boutique vintner Fidelitas in Washington state and custom winemakers Judd's Hill MicroCrush east of Napa and Spelletich Cellars in south Napa.

[caption id="attachment_50673" align="alignleft" width="318" caption="4parts silk-screen wine labels"][/caption]

"We look at the design portion as the engine in the car, and marketing and other elements are as wheels on the car," said partner David Hanson-Jerrard.

He ran Lafitte Cork & Capsule in Napa for seven years before joining forces with Travis Pollard, digital business manager of Tapp Label Technologies' Napa plant. Lead designer Hayley Partridge came from Sonoma-based custom wine microbrand builder Crushpad, where she created more than 2,000 labels for clients worldwide, ranging from celebrities to hobbyists.

"At Lafitte, I saw a huge opportunity in the U.S. wine market for a company that can help small wineries try to maintain competitiveness with huge wineries," Mr. Hanson-Jerrard said. Design, marketing, strategy and logistics -- the "four parts" in the firm's name -- came from discussions with prospective clients about services they needed.

The firm is aiming to fit between specialized branding and design firms such as CF Napa and Tinknell & Tinknell and logistics consultants such as FreeRun Winery Services.

[caption id="attachment_50674" align="alignright" width="249" caption="4parts Design helped Mia Sebastiani create a Wine Country look for her premium foods brand Mia's Kitchen."][/caption]

Beyond label design, 4parts offers help with positioning brands for various sales channels -- in restaurants or in fine wine shops, in chain stores or independent retailers -- and differing levels of consumer interaction with the brand.

A big discussion in wine packaging design these days is whether to use and how to employ customer-response methods on labels or other marketing materials such as traditional QR codes, SpyderLynk's SnapTag or Microsoft Tag.

"We see a lot of marketing people slap a QR code on a bottle or label and think it makes them hip with Millennials," Mr. Hanson-Jerrard said. "In reality, it takes longer to scan a QR code and bring up the winery page than to just type in the URL printed on the label."

Part of the strategy discussion with clients is deciding how to best use a customer-response code, such as linking to a video from the winery owner or winemaker to talk about a particular wine, he said. The firm is working with a client to use a QR code to link to a video with a customized greeting based on the geographic region where the wine is sold.

The same goes with understanding the most efficient use of social media platforms, he said. Rather than trying to push sales or generate direct mentions of a brand, they should be employed to create a "halo effect" around a brand by letting discussion flow naturally.

On the logistics side, 4parts project manager Jen Hayes adapted off-the-shelf PakTrak packaging accounting software to give small-to-mid-sized wineries a software tool track purchasing and inventory of stoppers, capsules, bottles and containers, packaging materials and related items.

On the design logistics side, Mr. Pollard helped 4parts develop a order-delivery system with Tapp to electronically bundle print jobs as small as 100 labels into larger jobs on digital offset color presses as often as every other week. If the orders fit within the same range of die sizes and other printing parameters, vintners can avoid prepress charges they might normally face if sending in their jobs individually, Mr. Hanson-Jerrard said.