Featured image for Here Design Refreshes Two Drifters Carbon Negative Rum and Wins the 2022 Dieline Award For Best Redesign

Here Design Refreshes Two Drifters Carbon Negative Rum and Wins the 2022 Dieline Award For Best Redesign

by Rudy Sanchez on 06/06/2022 | 5 Minute Read

Based in the seaside county of Devon, UK, Two Drifters is a brand born out of a love for rum and a desire to share and enjoy it without harming the planet. 

Founded by Gemma and Russ Wakeman, their passion for rum started from their first date and continued into their married life. The name Two Drifters came to Gemma on their wedding day; the couple walked down the aisle to Moon River, and she was struck by the Johnny Mercer lyric “Two drifters, off to see the world.” Russ’s academic chemistry career also focused on carbon capture, storage, and utilization, removing CO2 from the air and reusing or storing it, and inspired a desire to produce the spirit in the least environmentally impactful way possible.

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Two Drifters calls its rum “carbon negative.” The distillery achieves carbon negativity by partnering with Swiss-based Climeworks to capture more CO2 than the brand’s operations produce. Two Drifters also works with Carbfix to take captured and dissolved CO2 and pump it underground to turn it into stone. They also look for greener alternatives wherever possible, like using 100% renewable power, electric vehicles, and reducing the distance materials travel.

The Wakemans recently felt that Two Drifters needed a brand refresh and packaging update to tell the distillery’s unique story. The firm turned to UK-based Here Design to convey the Two Drifters' story in a more attractive, artistic, and environmentally-positive way.

“First and foremost, the project’s goal was to articulate the Two Drifters story because it’s quite an unusual business,” said Mark Paton, creative director of Here Design. 

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The agency's work on the Two Drifters takes advantage of the opportunity to reduce the company’s overall CO2 output while communicating the brand’s ecological mission and the craft that goes into the rum. The new packaging has a distinct and artistic shelf appeal. Two Drifters’ new look and identity, combined with the sustainability improvements, make it easy to see why it is Dieline Awards' 2022 Redesign of the Year.

Before the refresh, Two Drifter’s bottle was heavier and used a plastic stopper. The new bottles now get sourced closer to Devon, while the top gets made utilizing natural materials. The label is comprised of hemp, linen, and 95% waste sugarcane fiber, and the tamper seal is 100% compostable. Overall, the packaging provided multiple opportunities to reduce the environmental impact while superbly communicating Wakeman's love for rum. 

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Editorial photograph

“Russ has a background in climate science and carbon science," Mark said. "He learned about Climeworks and wanted to use rum as a vehicle to discuss carbon. It's quite an unusual sort of starting point for a brand. But I think that's what makes it even more interesting is because it's got this kind of backstory of a credible understanding of carbon and how businesses in the future might be able to facilitate some environmental benefit rather than environmental impact.”

The new packaging design features a dual-color palette in pleasant, soothing tones and combinations. A sailboat sits in front of the sun in calm waters, and geometric patterns add a level of sophistication and craft. The brand name comes in a refined typeface and below reads “carbon negative rum,” prominently presenting the distinct eco-forward nature of the company. Optimistic and upbeat copy provides details about the rum’s taste, proof, and how much carbon Two Drifters have captured from the atmosphere.

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Editorial photograph

“We knew we had to balance the sustainability message with being a credible, British rum,” said Hazel Oguz, senior designer at Here Design and lead designer on the Two Drifters project. “We looked at the Devon landscape, the rhythms of the coast and sea, and tied each flavor to a certain pattern. For example, the pineapple flavor has a pineapple skin pattern on the label. The signature rum uses a ripple effect, inspired by the idea of Two Drifters being a small drop in the ocean creating a big impact.”

“One of the easiest ways to reduce the carbon from the packaging was to get a much lighter bottle, which saves on transportation, the fuel needed to transport heavier glass, and so more can get shipped in the same space,” explained Hazel. “The new bottles are made in England, reducing shipping-related CO2, and we used a natural cork stopper rather than plastic." 

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Sugar cane is also integral to the brand's story. The tamper seal gets made using sugar cane (also plastic-free), while the label utilizes 95% of it plus 5% hemp. What's more, waste sugarcane from Tate and Lyle’s London sugar factory is used rather than shipping more sugar cane from the Caribbean to make the rum. All of those elements helped make the packaging as sustainable as possible.

“We also went as far as to find a local printer because usually, we use our commercial printers in London, but Two Drifters calls Devon home," added Sophie Lee, project manager at Here Design. “We did a lot of research into which commercial printers were in their area who could also print to the high level of spec we had. The printers could do a small batch run, and then Two Drifters’ electric van can pick up the labels and bring them back, so there's no big shipping and carbon usage there. We tried to go into every detail of their journey to produce these bottles and labels.”

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Two Drifters wanted their sustainability effort to be authentic and avoid greenwashing schemes such as tree planting to build an eco-conscious brand story.

Like carbon credits, tree planting is a popular way for brands to tout their eco-consciousness. Neither, however, reduce a company’s carbon footprint, and in the case of tree planting, most of these programs fail to deliver. A recent investigation by the BBC looked at tree-planting programs from across the globe and found that most were more sizzle and less steak, falling far short of targets and promises. Two Drifter’s approach focuses on reducing operational carbon output while also funding sequestration and conversion of greenhouse gases.

“Gemma and Russ say that they do things the hard way,” said Francesca Tenenbaum, head copywriter at Here Design. “It's a conscious choice to do things hard and never cut corners. Two Drifters could have gone the tree planting route, but they've chosen to make the greenest possible product, even when it’s harder.”

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According to Two Drifters, the rum brand has avoided emitting over 132 tons of CO2 and captured 39 tons of greenhouse gasses. Here Design’s rebrand balances the joy founders Gemma and Russ have for rum with Two Drifters’ commitment to sustainability. 

The result is an approachable, fun, and eco-forward design.

Images courtesy of Here Design.