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The Working Assembly Helps Launch Bawi, the Sparkling, Modern Take On Aguas Fresca

by Rudy Sanchez on 03/29/2022 | 3 Minute Read

Even to the casual observer, it’s pretty evident that consumers are reaching for flavored sparkling water instead of traditional sodas full of artificial ingredients and refined, processed sugar. While a healthier beverage, sparkling waters can be too simple, leaving consumers that want something refreshing and lower-calorie with a choice between two extremes.

Bawi is a sparkling beverage line inspired by Mexican aguas frescas, made with organic fruit juice, naturally sweetened, and only 50-90 calories per serving. By way of comparison, a 12 oz Coca-Cola has 140 calories and gets sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Bawi flavors are also Latin-inspired—lime, pineapple, and passionfruit.

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“Agua frescas are classic Mexican beverages. What they all have in common is that, while delicious, they are often packed with sugar,” said Anthony Fernandez, senior brand manager for the New York-based branding agency The Working Assembly. “Victor Guardiola, one of Bawi’s founders, wanted to enjoy some of the nostalgic flavors from growing up in Monterrey, Mexico, but through a more health-conscious lens.”

“Bawi retains these flavors, but by lowering calories, decreasing sugars, using organic juices, and adding carbonation, it can give a modern twist to the classics,” Fernandez added.

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Victor Guardiola is a first-generation Mexican immigrant, and his native food and beverage culture played a significant part in his life. “I've always noticed inauthentic Mexican branded CPG products that poorly represented the diversity Mexican cuisine offers," Victor said. "The Mexican retail space is largely centered around three large categories—chips, salsas, and tortillas with other categories being an afterthought,” Guardiola added.

Many other traditional Mexican RTD aguas fresca options were classics, but the classics didn’t keep changing health-oriented consumer attitudes. "Any authentic Mexican beverage was either mineral water or a sugar-rich soda," Victor added. "As a consumer, I had to make a compromise. No option kept health and flavor in mind, so Jordan (Hicks, cofounder, Bawi) and I decided to give it a try.”

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Branding and packaging design by The Working Assembly is, like the beverages themselves, a reflection of the modern Latino culture in the US. 

“The Bawi logo incorporates typography with a dimensional vernacular apparent in local food and fruit stands and Mexican street art," said Diego Barragan, design director for The Working Assembly. "The packaging and illustration style is inspired by ‘Lotería,’ a traditional Mexican game with a vintage, watercolor aesthetic card. The duality of the English-Spanish linguistics on the packaging hints at the reality of the lives of the Mexican-American and Tex-Mex cultures.”

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Lotería is a bingo-like game popular with Mexicans on both sides of the border. The game has European roots and first arrived in Mexico in 1769. The images of Don Clemente Gallo’s version, first produced in 1887, are the most recognizable and often a source of parody and inspiration.

Though Guardiola and Hicks had the idea of a healthier, agua-fresca-inspired, sparkling beverage formed, they didn’t have a name. Fortunately, Victor’s dad José had just the thing.

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“The brand name came from my dad. We took Bawi through a food and beverage practicum at the McCombs School of Business where we quickly had to select a brand name at the start of the program,” Victor said. “I asked my dad to think of a one to two-syllable word in Spanish and get back to me later in the week. Within a couple of days, he came back with a Rarámuri word for mineral water, ‘ba’wi.' Although I was born in Monterrey, my entire family is from a small city in northwestern Mexico near Chihuahua, where many Rarámuri still live.”

Bawi reinterprets traditional Mexican soft drinks keeping the good stuff, natural ingredients, and classic flavors while cutting out sugar and adding effervescence. Bawi’s branding also borrows from traditional Mexican culture and presents them in a modern way, signaling a familiar taste presented in a format popular with consumers. 

Bawi is available for pre-order now at DrinkBawi.com.

Photography: Fresh Take Studios

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