Iconic design elevates a brand beyond its competitors by expressing big ideas in surprisingly simple ways.
is an object or symbol that represents an idea. The bigger the idea it
represents, the more powerful the icon. The term iconic is often used to describe brands. Few really deserve the
title. To be truly iconic, a brand must consistently represent an emotive idea,
yet always be relevant to its context. Iconic design makes the idea as clear as
possible, in part by editing and simplifying. It makes the brand consistent and
unmistakable, but also ensures the brand is never predictable. It gives the
brand unlimited potential to surprise and delight. We set these goals for every
brand we work with, because we believe that every brand has the potential to be
started working with Coca-Cola in 2006, the once iconic brand had
become a victim of its own success. People were so familiar with Coke that they
were no longer noticing it, and the design leadership that the brand had shown
in the past was nowhere to be seen. To begin with, we looked at everything that
was actually being produced in the brand’s name. Brand guidelines describe how
a brand should look, but reality
usually tells a different story. Much of the output was promotional materials
that were typically cluttered and communicated nothing significant about the
brand. Even the core identity had become unnecessarily complex and laden with
clichéd elements. The brand was everywhere, but easy to ignore. The team at Coca-Cola had recently
re-discovered a clear and simple purpose for the brand: “Coke brings joy”.
Coke’s visual identity needed to communicate that truth wherever it appeared,
and inspire people to reconsider the brand.
design, what you leave out is as important as what you put in. But many brand
owners find it difficult to accept a ruthlessly edited visual identity, and
executives at Coca-Cola were no exception. We built a clear strategic rationale
for simplification, supported by best in class examples from other categories.
With the help and support of our clients at Coca-Cola, we were able to convince
senior executives to risk change. We reduced and re-drew the myriad elements
the brand was using and formed the iconic “kit of parts”: Red, white, the
Script, Dynamic Ribbon, Contour Bottle, Disk and Gotham typeface.
alone is not the answer. These days, brands must constantly adapt to changing
contexts, and for a brand like Coca-Cola with a single product that never
changes—a living, breathing visual identity is all
the more important. Everything created in a brand’s name communicates something
about the brand’s values and purpose. At times, even the humblest little object
like a paper cup, can be more iconic than a splashy advertising campaign.
brands cannot be rigidly consistent; the key is coherence. As the
design stewards of Coke’s visual identity, our job is to bring a little joy to
everything from cups to trucks, and we believe that the way we do it has to be
different every time. This never-ending reinvention helps keep the brand
relevant and engaging (and keeps our lives interesting!).
collaboration with Coca-Cola has produced work that has won most of the design industry’s
top awards, including the prestigious Cannes Grand Prix and the D&AD Yellow
Pencil. The Coca-Cola visual
identity design was the first to be inducted into the Clio Hall of Fame. It has
become a benchmark used in branding presentations all over the world, and its
influence can clearly be seen across almost every category. This dedication to
iconic design has helped enable Coca-Cola to recruit top design talent for its
internal team and increase the influence of design within the company. Despite
the category reaching maturity and facing challenges in many regions, the brand
has continued to grow and has reclaimed its status as the most iconic brand in
the world. Of course, we can’t take all the credit for this success (much as
we’d like to!). A great many people around the world have contributed to the
transformation of the Coke brand, and we collaborate with a lot of them. We’re
just grateful to be a part of it.