Design Case Study | Appartement 103 designs a new look for Salvadoran rum brand Cihuatán - ADF&PCD and PLD Paris

Design Case Study | Appartement 103 designs a new look for Salvadoran rum brand Cihuatán

Appartment 103 has created a whole new world for Salvadoran rum brand Cihuatán. From a powerful repositioning strategy to a full branding and packaging redesign, they brought to life their client’s commitment to share the love for their sacred lands with the world.


Licoreras Cihuatán, the only rum producer in El Salvador, has awarded the boutique design studio Appartement 103 with the repositioning design of its core range.

Requiring deep category expertise, Appartement 103 embellished on a strategic approach with portfolio management, naming development, brand redesign, secondary packaging and advertising campaign collaterals.

Licoreras Cihuatán started distilling in 2004 with the ambition to become an international premium craft rum producer, who serves as El Salvador’s ambassador to the world. The company sold their first bottle in 2015, and since then have been increasingly growing and surprising consumers across the globe with exceptionally crafted product profiles. However, the previous brand presentation was not conveying any personality, neither premiumness, making it impossible to compete in such a crowded environment.

A Mayan Heritage:

Cihuatán Rum invites you to satisfy your curiosity. Curiosity is what ties their rum to El Salvador and to the Mayan civilisation who centuries ago also called the Cihuatán Valley their home.

In the Nahuat dialect, “Cihuatán” means “the land beside the sleeping woman”. The legend says that a Goddess came to Cihuatán Valley and bestowed this land with riches and fertility. Under her grace, Cihuatán has blossomed into fertile sugarcane fields and the purest of waters.

It is from this poetical and original myth that Appartement 103 built the base of an entirely new visual identity, using powerful illustrations as vital brand assets, conveying its story.

What is unusual about the pack? What inspired the design?

Camouflaged at the heart of every illustration lies the Sleeping Woman’s face, which is the masterpiece of the new Cihuatán icon used across all POS materials.

To strengthen the new brand positioning, offering it a deeper level of discovery, Appartement 103 developed names for each variant with their unique storytelling, triggering consumers curiosity and desirability by taking them through the odyssey of the Mayan gods:

The 8 years old design, Cihuatán Indigo, symbolises Tlaloc, the Mayan God of rain, fertility and water. Often symbolised by a snake, Appartement 103’s team represented the power of Tlaloc through a beautiful intertwine illustration with flamboyant colours and textures, which aims to heighten consumers’ senses through an odyssey of details.

On the other hand, Cihuatán Cinabrio is a 12 years old rum in reddish colour tones, a symbol of Kinich Ahau, the Mayan God of the sun. Legend has it that the Sleeping Woman, guardian goddess of the Cihuatán valley, interceded before Kinich Ahau so that he energised the valley with its heat.

Cihuatán Xaman is the ultra-premium SKU of the range. Legend has it that under the veil of night, the Sleeping Woman would look for the brightest star in the sky. This was Xaman, god of the North Star.

The labels boost embossing details with crafted paper texture and hot foil stamping, creating a subtle yet overt premiumisation across these products.

The oak wood closure has been laser engraved with the icon, conveying an extra touch of craftsmanship and elegance.

A great reaction from customers!

“The reaction from customers has been great! The new design shares more about our Mayan heritage, and people love that. We even have our first fan clubs managed by rum fans around the world! The first one started in the Czech Republic, so we’re happy to see our rums around the world. We owe this excitement to the new image of Cihuatan without question.”

“Appartement 103’s team has gone above and beyond to get to know Cihuatán´s DNA, strategic goals and the stories of our land and translated those into packaging and marketing assets that are not only visually striking, but also will help Cihuatán accomplish commercial and other strategic goals. Along the entire scope of the project, we have considered Appartement 103 to be a true ally and we are thrilled with the end result.”

Eugenia Ramirez – Marketing Manager – Licorera Cihuatán

Brand owner: Julien Zylbermann


Client: Licoreras Cihuatán

Country: El Salvador

Product: Aged Rum

Work: Brand redesign & NPD

Agency: Appartement 103

Launch date: January 2020

Launch country: International market

Printer: Autajon

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