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The Havana Club brand has a rich and contentious history. Founded by the Arechebala family in Cardenas, Cuba in 1878, Havana Club rum is the original Cuban rum (despite claims by Pernod Ricard’s brand by the same name). Forced to flee Cuba during the Cuban Revolution, the Arechabalas took with them their age-old recipe and resumed production in Puerto Rico.
Fast forward to 2016, when the opportunity arose to redesign the Havana Club packaging to reclaim the brand’s spot as the one, true Cuban rum.
Our task was to redesign the packaging for both Havana Club Clasico and Blanco (dark and light rums) with the objective of conveying heritage, quality and tenacity of the Arechebalas and their storied rum.
In redesigning the packaging, we wanted to honor the tenacity of the Arechabala family story and resurrect the richness and craft with which the rum is distilled.
After an immersion in the Bacardi archives, the team drew inspiration from a variety of assets, including vintage bottle labels, advertisements from the 1930s and 1940s, and the cultural jet-set ephemera of the Tropicana Club decade. Old packaging informed many of the design decisions. Our objective was to stay true to the brand’s foundation in order to establish the brand as the original Cuban rum. Havana Club’s history allowed us to honor the brand’s heritage, and lend credibility to Havana Club Rum as a premium distiller.
Some noteworthy design elements and their inspiration:
• The center seal (Marca Fabrica): Prominently featured on packaging and advertising since the brand’s inception. It served as the registered logo of the Arechebala’s rum and makes reference to two symbols:o Wolves w/ lambs at the mouth: The wolves represent the two Lords of Vizcaya (province within the Basque country – area between France and Spain)o Oak Tree: Arechabala is a biskayne surname. The tree is an oak tree, representing the "Guernica tree," famous symbol of the basque country.• Jose Arechebala Portrait: Founder of the first distillery in Cuba. Represents the family’s pride in their craft. • Neck Label: It was common in the time period to use red neck stamps as a way to seal the cork. We took inspiration from this color, for both Blanco and Anejo variants, as a nod to these traditional sealing techniques. • Crest: The crest is from the province of Vizcaya• The story on the right, front side: The brand’s heritage plays such a strong role in imbuing the rum with character and credibility, we leveraged this space to tell it in a digestible way.• The distilling credentials on the left, front side: Provides consumers with a bit of information on how long the rum is aged, etc. • Typography: All hand-lettered and unique to Bacardi’s Havana Club Rum• Paper stock / finishes: Production finishes were just as important as the graphic elements. A toothy, matte stock was chosen and embellished with emboss and foiling details around key elements (the center seal, the typography, etc.).
Havana Club Clasico and Blanco launched in the U.S. in June 2016. The brand quickly garnered positive press and reignited the debate about the true Cuban original. With the complement of a communications plan, Bacardi’s Havana Club is well on it’s way to reclaiming it’s rightful place in history.