In a move that’s billed as worldwide brand unification, the Coca Cola Company announced a major redesign of its look this week. The new design language, pioneered in Mexico and soon to roll out globally throughout 2016 and 2017, will serve as a unifying rebrand.
The redesign covers classic Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, and Coke Life. At the heart of this redesign is what the company is calling the Red Disc, which will unify its different drink lines. Already associated with the Cola brand by Coke drinkers worldwide, the color red is the powerful component on which this design language is based.
The red disc is essentially a bottle cap with the name “Coca-Cola” spelled out in the familiar brand lettering—lettering based on the handwriting of the Coca-Cola company’s first bookkeeper. The plan is for this new brand asset to show up on every single Coke that you buy, regardless of the exact drink in the bottle or can.
The red disk also has a history with the company’s branding from long ago; originally, the red disc was used in Coke ads from the 1930s; then in the 1940s it was utilized as a signage system in retail locations to tell the public where to buy ‘genuine’ coke. In practical terms, the company hopes that this means newer lines such as Coke Life will gain some of the credibility that the heritage of the classic line of Coke already enjoys.
Of course, different Coke products will still retain a small sense of uniqueness by displaying their own brand colors as part of the packaging. And the red disc will adapt to the specific context in which it is being presented on packaging.
The unified brand approach is significant because over the last three decades, Coke’s approach to branding has been to design in visual distinction to enhance the difference between their drink options. Changes in consumer tastes and an awareness of healthier options means that full sugar Coke is losing ground to Diet Coke; if the trend continues, the new brand approach means that in future we’ll still think of Coke red, rather than diet grey.