From the curves of the bottle to its distinct red colour, Coca-Cola is one of the most recognised brands in the world.

In the single biggest change to the family of products in its 130-year history, Coca-Cola has moved to unify Coca-Cola Classic, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke with Stevia under one design with the launch of the One Brand strategy.

What does this mean? Put simply, you’ll be seeing a clean new design that makes use of Coke’s famous ‘red disc’.

“This idea was really about creating a single identity that allows us to unify our existing portfolio and gives us a foundation to add innovation, new products within the Coke umbrella in the future,” said Coca-Cola’s Global VP of Design, James Sommerville.

Second only to Mexico, Australian consumers will be among the first to experience the new designs.

One Brand: One Visual Identity

“Strategically it was about creating a unified portfolio where we reclaim some of the equity back from the original Coca-Cola,” James said.

But it was also a decision of “less is more” for James and his team. “With the scale of the organisation we have all kinds of amazing assets and colours at our disposal,” James said.

“So let’s be deliberate in some of those assets that we use. 

“We’re building the equity around our original colour red and we’re using the red disc as a kind of a graphic device to really represent all Coca-Colas,” he said.

Learning From The Past

James turned to the past for inspiration when faced with the huge task of refreshing Coca-Cola’s branding.

“I spend a lot of my spare time in the archives looking for success stories and failures because we can learn from that and we can be inspired by that,” James said.  

“What we don’t do is just regurgitate the archives, we don’t want to make old work again.

“We seek inspiration from our past and see whether we can use that to create a new language that’s relevant to consumers today,” he explained.

“At Coca-Cola we’re spoilt with so many different logos at our disposal. Which ones do we use? The ribbon? The bottle? The disc? What we’re trying to do here is create a system that can grow and adapt depending on which market you’re in.”  

The Red Disc

The red disc has played a huge role in Coca-Cola’s visual identity, from its hand-painted birth in the 1920s and 30s to its systemisation in the 1940s. 

For James the new packaging designs signal a shift in the visual language, making the classic red disc more prominent than other elements associated with the brand. 

“By applying the disc we’re using a signature asset in a contemporary and surprising way to share the equity of Coca-Cola products,” said James.

“Consumers will see the Coca-Cola red disc in all global markets at the end of our TV ads, in our print ads and on our billboards. 

“Using this same device on packaging completes the picture. The result is a consistent brand signature that refreshes our familiar red disc icon, yet applies it in a systematic and modern way,” he said.

The Journey Has Just Begun

When looking to the challenges that Coca-Cola might face in the future it was important for James and the design team to think strategically first.

“We’re trying to project ourselves into the future and almost design backwards,” James said.  

“Whilst people may look at our packaging today or tomorrow as we evolve they’ll have a subjective opinion about that.

“But this packaging is on a journey. So the project hasn’t finished by launching it, it’s actually just started.” 

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