Coca-Cola unveils “refreshed” packaging design system

The redesign will affect Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke, and is the first global packaging update since 2016.

Coca-Cola has unveiled a new, simplified design system across its Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and Diet Coke brands.

The change is the first global redesign of packaging since 2015, when the company first instituted its “One Brand” strategy, which featured work by Turner Duckworth, Epoch Design and Bulletproof.

The new look removes “added elements” from cans and is an evolution of the One Brand strategy, the company says. The process began in February when the company launched the new pared-back packaging for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. The other drinks in its Coca-Cola trademark range will now similarly adopt the simplified approach.

Driven by the “universally-recognised” red

Coca-Cola’s in-house global design team, which is based in Atlanta, US, has collaborated with Kenyon Weston on the new look.

According to the team, the starting point of the design work was the “universally-recognised” Coca-Cola red. The bright hue signals “authentic, delicious and refreshing”, it continues.

The brand’s signature colour pairings – white type on red for Coca-Cola, black on red for Coca-Cola Zero Sugar and red on silver for Diet Coke – are the basis for the new design.

“Celebrating the Coca-Cola logo”

“Added elements” comprising the red disc and wave line, which previously featured on cans, have been axed.

“The intent is to provide a simple and intuitive navigation system that carries across all Coca-Cola variants, while simultaneously celebrating the Coca-Cola logo,” the company says.

The empty space now found on the cans is part of a “visual metaphor”, the company adds. Placing the Coca-Cola wordmark at the top of the can is an indication of the drinks’ “uplifting” potential, it continues.

The rest of the “trademark design evolution” will now follow in the wake of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. The company expects all variants to be converted by 2022.

Paper bottle questioned by designers

In February Coca Cola announced its first-ever paper bottle. The innovation, which had been designed in collaboration with Danish company Paboco drew a mixed reaction.

Commenting in Design Week, founder and creative director of Morrama product design studio Jo Barnard questioned the use of a plastic screw top, while Generous Minds designer and Packadore Collective partner Ronald Lewerissa asked if there were better ways to kickstart a circular economy through the use of glass bottles or post-mix solutions.

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  • Christopher Simmons April 13, 2021 at 5:50 pm

    The strategy makes a lot of sense and I the simplified packaging is both appreciated and on-trend. But the Coke Zero packaging is a huge miss.

    People often call Coca Cola “Coke” but calling branding it “Coca Cola” signals its flagship position and legacy status. Smart. Everyone calls Diet Coke “Diet Coke” and recognizes the silver can. Good job. No one calls Coke Zero “Coca Cola Zero Sugar”.

    If they wanted to make the packaging truly intuitive they’d have kept the black can, such that the base color of the packaging remains the distinguishing variable. That’s intuitive. If they are absolutely committed to making the red “universal” (I put that in quotes because Diet Coke is an immediate exception) then Coke Zero can live in a red can but it should be called…um…let’s see… COKE ZERO. Maybe it has

    Creating an intuitive system is as much about logic as it is about embracing natural human behavior. There are only two variables in this system, name and package color. One product variant changes both name and color, while the other doesn’t change the name or package color, but changes the logo color.

    It may look simple, but intellectually it’s a mess.

  • George April 16, 2021 at 6:14 am

    I quite like the simplified packaging but when I read “The empty space now found on the cans is part of a “visual metaphor”, the company adds. Placing the Coca-Cola wordmark at the top of the can is an indication of the drinks’ “uplifting” potential, it continues.” I had to laugh. The absolute tosh that comes out of studios and in-house teams nowadays is embarrassing.

    • John Moore April 22, 2022 at 4:22 am

      Yet another reason to switch to Pepsi. The new “Coke Zero Sugar” tastes like crap.

  • Chris April 19, 2021 at 2:55 pm

    They should have stayed out of politics, though. Lifelong Coca Cola drinker and collector here. I’m done supporting this woke brand.

  • Charles Adams June 1, 2021 at 10:23 pm

    Fed up of the new cardboard packaging on 330mm x 8 cans breaking either in the supermarket and in intransit home. Several cans exploded in my car, and in our kitchen.

  • John J August 11, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    For diet Coke, basically they reverted back to the 2014-2017 logo. I like the 2018 diet Coke logo better with the color coded stripe for each flavor. But in all honesty I really don’t see anything groundbreaking here. All of these “redesigns” look nearly identical to what they already have, with the exception of Coke Zero Sugar which now changed to red instead of black as the main color. But i’m sure Coke Zero Sugar will change back to black again in a year or two. But for theses designs, The over simplified logo trend of the late 2000’s and 2010s is now on it’s way out now…so again, there is nothing really innovative here.

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