Rowena Curlewis CEO & co-founder of Denomination, Most Inspiring WomenLeaders of 2021 Profile

Rowena Curlewis
CEO & co-founder of Denomination

Rowena Curlewis CEO & co-founder of Denomination, Most Inspiring WomenLeaders of 2021

“Revolutionizing Wine Arena”

Being hard-working, agile, and combining both big picture thinking and detail focus come naturally to Rowena Curlewis, CEO & co-founder of Denomination. The ability to learn quickly, the desire to keep learning, and the continuous sharing of this knowledge across the team ensure that everyone grows together in knowledge, expertise, and confidence. “The enjoyment of what I do: the passion and love for my business and my industry can be infectious, and it encourages positivity and commitment amongst my colleagues.”

Rowena has been an advocate for enhancing women in the professional world and advises them to be true to themselves. “Be heard. There is a general reluctance among women to not speak loudly or confidently enough, or to persuasively argue their point. It’s important that your colleagues, industry peers and clients see that you’re prepared to speak up for your ideas, and for others too.” With this attitude, Rowena has been leading the company to new heights.

Denomination was born in 2002 by co-founders Margaret Nolan and Rowena Curlewis. At the time, most design agencies specialized in a discipline, e.g., packaging, environmental, rather than an industry. “We were of the opinion that specializing in a single industry would fast-track the company’s reputation as an expert in that chosen field,” says Rowena. “Choosing an industry that matched both their experience, expertise and passion was easy: the drinks industry had played a big role in both of our careers to date, and this is where our love lay.”

Denomination's global footprint has provided Rowena with amazing opportunities to absorb and understand the differences and similarities between cultures within the context of the drinks industry. “Whilst many of the fundamentals remain the same, the nuances of winemaking, viticultural methods and practices, consumer behaviour and retail networks become really clear when you’re able to observe them first-hand,” adds the steadfast leader. “We also (pre COVID) attend all of the major drinks trade shows globally including Prowein, VinExpo, Luxe Pack, London Wine Fair, and Women of the Vine & Spirit.” This ensures that Denomination is exposed to emerging trends and can identify those trends that their clients should capitalize on.

Caroline Thomson-Hill is managing director of Accolade Wines Europe, one of the major players in the European wine industry, and commissioned Denomination to redesign the UK’s #2 wine brand – Echo Falls. Launched in 2002, it had enjoyed significant success as an accessible, unpretentious gateway to wine for consumers who are new to the category. However, the brand had lost its way, and consumers had started to view the brand as cheap and lacking cohesion. It was also facing losses in distribution. Denomination’s redesign of Echo Falls had immediate results in terms of retailer uptake and sales growth.

Denomination believes that the development of a clear brand positioning is the first key step in ensuring that every touchpoint of a brand has a consistent tone of voice and personality. Once the positioning has been determined, creating the brand idea and its execution is far more targeted. “We can assess all creative, from packaging to point of sale to advertising, as to whether it aligns to the brand’s positioning: its essence, tone of voice and personality attributes,” says Rowena. “As we specialize in an industry (drinks), and not a design discipline, our creative team are able to turn their collective hands to many different disciplines.” However, the core of their business remains brand identity and packaging, and the other touchpoints branch from there are then always consistent and true to the core brand idea.

The company will also be expanding its sustainability consultancy side as they see the need for an independent agency to provide objective information to clients on all aspects of sustainable packaging, free from any industry-specific bias. “We will also be ‘walking the walk’ in terms of sustainable practices within our own business. We have committed to be Climate Neutral and will receive our certification in April 2021,” says Rowena. “I will continue lecturing through webinars and conferences on sustainability in drinks packaging in order to help shift practices and attitudes.”IE




Rowena Curlewis
CEO & co-founder


At Denomination, we create original and successful drinks brands. Our designs are successful in the market: consumers love them. We offer the complete package: not just labels but brand and creative strategy, innovation, naming, copywriting, gifting, point of sale, brand movies, the list goes on. Whilst we work for many drinks brands, no two are the same. The breadth and diversity of our work is what sets us apart.

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