Creating and launching Turtle Roll Rum, a new craft rum

Branding, positioning, packaging, e-commerce and social activation


Retail & hospitality



Unit 29 Ventures

Relevant links




Visual identity · Logo design · E-commerce · Website design · Website build · Netlify · Stripe · Brand messaging · Packaging design · Merchandise


Challenge icon

The challenge

Unit 29 Ventures wanted to create a new craft rum to be sold direct to consumer and through selected distributors, bars and restaurants.

What we did icon

What we did

We created a distinctive, ocean-inspired drinks brand from scratch, adaptable across packaging, website, social and print.

Outcome icon

The outcome

Turtle Roll Rum launched online as a commercially viable product in March 2024 and is available in selected resellers, bars and restaurants in Kent and the South-East.

Unit 29 Ventures launched its first enterprise in 2020: The Cove, a luxury florist and concept store in Royal Tunbridge Wells. It has built up a loyal and discerning customer base of people with a taste for premium products made by local independent makers and distillers.

After two years, investor Phil Reid – who is the founder and Strategic Director of Studiomade – decided it was time for Unit 29’s next venture: a unique, small batch rum.

The concept and name

Unit 29 Ventures recognised an opportunity to launch a rum brand centred on sustainable packaging, the concept of reuse, and supporting a sustainability charity.

The vision was for a rum inspired by the ocean, locally made in Kent, and led by its values: distinctive quality in the ingredients and materials, clean efficiency (reduced waste and efficient production methods), and growth and rejuvenation of natural resources (contributing to a cause and enjoying life while doing it).

Based on a love of the sea and surf, and reflecting this new venture and its first step into the drinks industry, we named it Turtle Roll. Before you can line up a wave when surfing, you have to get out past the ones that are breaking all around you. The turtle roll technique helps you get past barriers, jump over hurdles and achieve greatness. Unit 29 hoped to do the same with Turtle Roll Rum - taking beginner steps with an ethically produced rum, hoping to effect positive change in our oceans.

The taste

Unit 29 Ventures and Studiomade worked together to craft the brand story and narrative of Turtle Roll Rum, which in turn helped brief the ingredients and taste. We worked with a talented expert, Callum Giblett, Managing Director at The Custom Spirit Co. He and his team defined different taste directions and, during a rigorous six-month phase of tasting, exploration and user testing, whittled down multiple recipes and ideas into the winning formula.

Turtle Roll Rum has been imagined and produced locally to Tunbridge Wells in Kent. It is distilled with Venezuelan, Dominican and Jamaican sugar cane, using a clean, high-quality and sustainable production process that runs fully on renewable energy. The concept, ingredients and commitment to sustainability all emerged from appreciation for the sea and ocean-side living.

In the final produced recipe, Turtle Roll Rum blends notes of pomegranate, lapsang, vanilla, black cardamom and sea

salt with oceanic botanicals samphire and sugar kelp. These intriguing layers of sweet and salt create a rich and smooth flavour profile.

As part of Turtle Roll's sustainability commitment, 10% of profits are donated to Project Seagrass, a charity working to restore and protect seagrass, a wonder plant that’s crucial to the health of our oceans.

What we did

Brand positioning and identity

Turtle Roll Rum is positioned as a challenger, independent brand with a premium feel, priced in line with the small-batch market. We were inspired by product brands that are driven by a mission beyond the product itself; companies with sustainable, ethical values at their core.

Our design director Angelo Iannelli wanted typography with a feeling of the sea so crafted loose, hand-drawn lettering, paired with the Söhne Breitt font as a contemporary counterpart. The illustrations, all hand-drawn by the Studiomade team, emulate typography distorted as if looking through water. The aqua tones and grainy texture of some of the photography were inspired by vintage surf photos e.g. 80s Miami.

Brand messaging

We use language that suits a modern, challenger brand, giving it a distinctive voice, casual rather than polished, yet with a premium feel. We use enticing flavour and ingredients descriptions to appeal to an audience of taste makers who are on top of trends and like to discover new experiences. To keep it relatable, we sprinkle in light-hearted, ocean-inspired phrases, particularly on social media.

Product photography

The images were shot by the wonderful team at Névé Studios. After creating mood boards to drive our creative direction, we decided that product photography should be bright and spacious, playing with light, shadow and interesting angles, and reflecting the fresh ingredients that give Turtle Roll its taste. The images feel realistic rather than glossy e.g. cocktails being made and drinks being poured. This is interspersed with imagery of oceans and waves, evoking the open feeling of the sea.


Turtle Roll Rum was conceived to be predominantly sold direct to consumer. This means that the customer experience and how the brand is presented online are paramount. We wanted to best present the personality of Turtle Roll Rum and establish a brand connection with customers, rather than it being a sales push.

To this end, we built a custom e-commerce experience, with every aspect individually designed. We applied the visual identity and brand voice across the website, and created a user journey that includes purchase. We opted for Gatsby hosted on Netlify, for good performance and speed. We integrated Stripe for payments and set up a bespoke webhook to promptly relay order details to our fulfilment company whenever there's a successful transaction. We added Mailchimp integration for automated emails to complete our loop.

Bottle and packaging

We researched, trialled and tested multiple bottle manufacturers and product variants, to find the most sustainable options possible.

Each bottle is made from 100% recycled glass and screen printed (using sustainable ink), with custom-drawn artwork and lettering that highlights the ingredients. It’s overlaid with a 100% recycled ECF paper label, printed with soy inks and the cork is sealed with a fully compostable, plant-based shrink wrap.

The cork stopper is made with activated charcoal, as this removes the need for additional chemicals and industrial processes. Packaging for shipment is made from bamboo pulp, a more abundant, renewable resource than cardboard.

A focus on re-use

After enjoying the rum, we encourage people to reuse the bottle as many times as possible before they put it into recycling. Our intention was to create a product that sparks conversation and brings a bit of fun to kitchens and dining tables when used as a pitcher for water or vase for flowers.


Unit 29 Ventures also wanted branded merchandise so we teamed up with Teemill. We chose them for two reasons. First, their t-shirts and hoodies are made from organic cotton, and they can be returned to be remade into something else once they’re worn out, creating a circular economy, which aligns with Turtle Roll’s value of sustainability. Second, customer purchases are printed and shipped to order, rather than us having to buy and hold stock. From a commercial perspective, as a new venture, this allows us to test users’ buying intent and decide where to focus on growing the range.

The outcome

With commercial strategy and investment from Unit 29 Ventures, and creative, brand and digital activation from Studiomade, we partnered to create a unique, small-batch, premium spiced rum, with sustainability at its heart. The initial limited run of 1,200 is now available at The Cove in Tunbridge Wells, at and proudly stocked at a growing number of bars and restaurants (ideally close to the sea!) in Kent and the South East.

Are you thinking of creating and launching a new product? To discuss how Unit 29 Ventures and/or Studiomade can help you, contact our Founder & Strategic Director, Phil Reid, on

Want to discuss a project?

Get in touch to find out how our strategic design, digital or branding expertise can help you change, pivot and thrive

Let’s talk →

Registered address:
85 Great Portland Street, First Floor

+44 20 7394

© Design to Communicate Ltd trading as Studiomade.

A Unit Group Collective company.

Registered in England & Wales No: 07176694  · Privacy Policy