Don Facundo Bacardí Massó and his wife, Amalia Moreau, embarked on a new business venture in 1862 with the purchase of a distillery in Santiago de Cuba. After extensive experimentation, Don Facundo developed a light, elegant rum with a taste that was in stark contrast to the fiery aguardiente of the day. As they set up shop, Doña Amalia noticed a colony of fruit bats nesting in the eaves of the tin-roofed distillery and suggested to her husband that the bat become the symbol of BACARDÍ rum.
The fruit bat was a logical choice to serve as a logo for a molasses-based distilled spirit. As natural friends of the sugar cane industry, bats pollinate the crop and prey on insects that damage it. The selection of the bat also has roots in folklore, as bats symbolize good fortune in both in the Bacardís’ native Catalonia, as well as among the local Cuban indigenous populations. According to these traditions, bats represent brotherhood, discretion, and faithfulness. The bat has come to embody the qualities of persistence and determination for Bacardí family members, in particular.
Doña Amalia’s insistence on selecting a memorable logo turned out to be a shrewd business move. Many of Bacardi’s potential clients were illiterate, and the image of the bat helped them to remember the rum. They began to ask for “el ron del murciélago,” or “the rum of the bat,” as the bat image was burned into the barrels of BACARDÍ rum. When Bacardi began bottling its own rum, each label featured the Bacardi bat and Don Facundo’s own signature approving the quality of the contents.
The bat logo has undergone many changes since it was registered at the Santiago de Cuba courthouse in 1862. The first version was a realistic-looking black bat on a red circular background. After the Cuban War for Independence, the image was updated with a more detailed bat drawing and the phrase “marca de fábrica” (trademark). The version endured for more than half a century.
In 1959, changes were made to the logo that have largely remained to date. The bat’s realistic features became more stylized, and gold accents and a gold border were added. Between 2002 and 2005, minor tinkering was done to the bat image that included making it three-dimensional, expanding the image until it seemed to burst from the gold border, and turning its head to face right, symbolic of looking to the future.
Bacardi’s building architecture features bat images all over the world. Edificio Bacardi in Havana, Cuba, features a 3D image of the Bacardi bat at its pinnacle. Perched atop a gold and ruby-colored sphere, the bat appears to survey Old Havana, connecting the exiled Bacardí family to its native country. Images of the bat are found throughout the building, pressed into brass, etched into hanging lanterns, and adorning interior doors. Bacardi’s Puerto Rican distillery, known as the “Cathedral of Rum” showcases a giant bat statue that graces a fountain in the entry courtyard. The conference room of Bacardi headquarters in Bermuda overlooks a stunning water feature, where the Bacardi bat logo shimmers beneath crystal-clear water.
Marketing campaigns have featured the bat over the years. Perhaps the most memorable one was circulated during the Prohibition to entice thirsty Americans to flee the United States and fly to Cuba, the home of BACARDÍ rum. The ad depicts Uncle Sam with a cocktail glass in hand en route from Florida to Cuba, dangling from the back leg of an enormous and very accommodating bat. The caption reads, “Flying from the Desert.”
The bat still flies for Bacardi’s marketing department. In 2014, Bacardi celebrated Cuba’s Independence Day (May 20) by “releasing” bats in five continents over the course of 24 hours. Thirty-four artists developed their own visions of the Bacardi bat taking flight. In Sydney, Australia, artists created a moving light show that featured a large bat dancing near the famous harbor. In London, an interactive light exhibit invited passersby to place an LED light on a copper tape and cork board. When dusk fell, the lit board revealed several bats in flight. A CGI projection in Rotterdam, Netherlands, offered the illusion of actual fruit bats nesting and flying about in an office over the Beurs World Trade Center. Pedestrians gathered around the building, taking pictures and enjoying the show.
When Doña Amalia suggested the bat as her husband’s fledgling company logo, she could not have foreseen just how significant the image would become in the branding of BACARDÍ rum over the next century-and-a-half. Today, the logo appears on every bottle of BACARDÍ rum and is one of the most recognized trademarks in the world.