OMSE's identity for China's first gin brand inspired by a legacy of secret societies

For a brand "born on the back streets of Shanghai" and deemed China's first gin, the chance to create its identity and dig down into its roots will certainly excite most graphic designers. For London studio OMSE, it proved to be a three-year project inspired by a legacy of secret societies that thrived in the world's largest trading port during the early 20th century.

OMSE founder James Kape and his team referenced this story for Peddlers Gin, along with Shanghai's signwriting of the time, to create a brand with a custom typeface in collaboration with Family Type.

It also crafted a bespoke bottle with a distinctive apothecary shape, curved body and rounded edges – much like the bottles streetsellers might've sneakily sold liqueur from during that time. A functional ring on the left shoulder of the bottle was designed and tested to allow "easy mobility and slinging of cocktails in all environments", as OMSE puts it, "from speakeasies to street corners".

Although impressive in its identity and packaging design, it was the launch of the bottle itself that adds extra finesse. Peddlers sent hundreds of bartenders a branded antique key in a wax-sealed envelope – stamped with the Peddlers logo but no other explanation. A week later, a limited-edition mahjong box with the new bottle smuggled inside, hidden in a secret compartment, was hand-delivered to 100 of the top bartenders in China. Interestingly, moving the mahjong tiles into place would reveal the goods inside via a trap door. To say it's an identity that considers the brand's legacy from start to finish is an understatement. Watch the ( below to see the reaction of some bartenders.

To further boost the marketing campaign, Peddlers held mahjong-related events across China, taking its product release to a much wider audience.

What was the most fascinating aspect of the research process? "The sheer amount of glyphs which exist in Chinese typefaces," says James Kape. "While English uses a standard roman alphabet, Chinese can be written in different variants across China and there are 7,000 characters in general use in the modern language."

OMSE worked with Think Packaging, Render Studio, Family Type, and photographer Graeme Kennedy to bring its vision for Peddlers Gin to life. Discover more at


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