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The History of the Coca-Cola Logo



Introduction
Nowadays, we live in a world where branding is everything. Everyday we come across hundreds, even thousands of brands that are all trying to break through in whatever industry they are in and eventually get established. These range from design agencies, drink companies, sports teams, and many other types of business. But how do they differentiate? Through one simple thing that is branding. Being recognized as a unique brand and not just “that drink from the weird billboards” is the key thing in today’s world. After you achieve this, you can begin talking about becoming a huge brand. So how can you achieve this? Development in this case is key, and who better to look at for development than one of the most successful beverage companies in the world’s history, Coca-Cola. We’ve all had Coca-Cola, whether at work when trying to get some caffeine to get us going, or after a meal to help with digestion, or while asking our mom’s to let us drink that one more glass of Coca-Cola during the weekend. But why do we care about the development? Well Coca-Cola is one of the biggest brands in the world, sponsoring sporting event, appearing in music videos, showing up in every store. The brand is universally recognizable at this point, but it hasn’t always been like that. So how did Coca-Cola develop its brand identity from times where it was an unknown until now, and the main part of it, the logo ever since the company’s creation in 1886 ? Let’s take a look at the development of the company’s main branding tool over the past 134 years.

In this article you will also learn about:

• the development and the history behind the different logo designs that coca-cola has used over the 130 years of its existence,
• the changes,
• why these changes happened,
• the effect it had on the position of coca-cola in the market,
• other interesting facts about the designs.

What is a Logo?
A logo is a distinctive symbol or an image that distinguishes the company from its competitors. The logo of a company is also used to show the company’s identity in a visually and (hopefully) pleasing way, that will add value to the customers. The way through which a logo adds value to the customers is based on the logo, they can often tell what the level of quality the product provides is. “a Logo is a symbol or another small design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles,etc.”

1887-1890
The earliest Coca-Cola logo was trademarked in 1893, but the designing of it began as early as the year 1887. The logo features the classical font as we know it on Coca-Cola packaging nowadays, with a “trademark” brand written on the end of the first “C”. The font has become something that we closely associate with the brand, not only appearing on the packaging, but also on coca-cola branded trucks, obviously the company HQs, and nowadays we can also see it on the “daughter products” of coca-cola like Fanta and Sprite.



1890-1891
During this small time period, coca-cola came up with a bit of a musical/dramatic makeover for its logo. This logo however did not catch on, as indicated in the one year only period of activity, and afterwards was changed back to a tweaked version of the initial logo. This then lasted for a much longer period of time, for approximately 50 years.



1891-1941
This time period was the first time, Coca-Cola opted for a colored logo as opposed to a simple black and white template. The reasons for this can be various. On the turn of the century at this point, Coca-Cola had to come up with a branding design that will show what the company wants to do in the future, and with that, also a logo that will distinguish itself from the past designs, while distinguishing itself from other companies’ logos completely, which they have definitely achieved with this logo. The red would become a trademark color of coca – cola for years to come, to the point where nowadays, coca – cola uses three main colors in it’s marketing, red, white, and black.



The red and the white have obviously been inspired especially from this logo, which would set the tone for marketing efforts of coca – cola for years to come. At this point these are the three colors people immediately think of when thinking of Coca-Cola, and this logo design was the beginning of that habit. In addition to the color change, coca – cola opted for a rectangle into which the writing is inserted, in order to make the logo a bit bolder. Regarding the font, Coca-Cola went back to its roots with the font, using the same curly font that has manned their logo from the beginning of the company.

1941 – present
In 1941, the logo that we know today and see it in our everyday lives nowadays came to life. Coca-Cola discarded the red rectangle used in the previous logo, and decided to make the font a bit bolder and opted for a different colorway, with a dark red color. The dash in between the two words also became a lot shorter, almost resembling a dot which can be considered as an homage to the very first black and white coca - cola logo used in 1887.



This is the logo that would become the embodiment of the brand as we know it today, would be a part of numerous Christmas commercials and trucks driving around the world. This is especially interesting when we consider the fact that apart from the color, the shorter dash, and the now non-existent writing with the word “Trademark”, this is essentially the same logo as created by the company in the beginning. This can be interpreted as few things, however the one that stands out the most is that Coca – Cola tried to go back to its roots in order to bring back a form of nostalgia which was definitely impactful to people, when we think about the year this rebrand happen during. World War 2 was just beginning, and Coca – Cola was able to capitalize on it by bringing a feeling of nostalgia, with a fresh twist, created through the red color. Eventually, this would work out very well for coca- cola and this logo became one of the most iconic logo designs in the history.

1947 – 1960
In 1947, Coca – Cola introduced a disc that served as a proof to the customers that the coca- cola a business was selling was actually real coca – cola. Around this point, Pepsi was also working on its rebrand, which is also one of the reasons why coca – cola decided to use a mark like this. This disc then got more and more popular around the world, where every place that sold coca – cola had one either inside, or sometimes even on their door in order to lure in customers. Nowadays, the disc is not only used as a disc but has also become the base for the crowns of the coca – cola glass bottles all over the world.



1958 – 1960
In 1958, the Coca – Cola revealed a new design that featured a “fishy shape”. This relates to the shape of an arciform which on the edges closely resembles a fish – tail, hence the name “fishy shape”. This design was however not used as a design on the bottles. Instead, during this period, the bottles were clear with only the typical white-written “Coca – Cola”. So what was this design used for if not the bottles ? The simple answer is, everything other than bottles.



This would range from bottle openers, to appearing on posters, to signs outside of restaurants. Next to this it also served as a sort of header on vending machines for soft drinks, appeared in numerous TV Shows and Movies during this era, and in a bunch of different magazines. It served as a marketing logo, for essentially everything other than the bottles. At this point it is obvious that this logo is also dominated by the colors red and white, which at this point already were the two colors most closely related to coca – cola.

1969
In 1969, the “Arden Square Logo” is unveiled by Coca – Cola. This logo is a big deal in the coca – cola logo design history, mainly because of the introduction of the wave that now underlines the classic coca – cola writing. This wave shows and symbolizes the smoothness of coca – cola, and the fact that the product can be accessed and consumed literally anywhere. After this logo the wave became synonymous with all of the future designs of coca – cola packaging. In addition to this logo, the slogan “It’s the real thing” was also introduced for the first time, in commercials that featured this logo in 1971. Afterwards, in 1985, the strip was used only on smaller packaging of coca – cola. In addition to this, the logo also features the word “enjoy” , captivating the already existing audience, and once again features the at this point synonymous color red.



1982
In 1982, before the introduction of the re-brand dubbed “Coke” , Coca – Cola introduced “Diet Coke” based on which “Coke” was introduced shortly after. Diet Coke was not only an extension of the logo, but also an extension of the product. The diet coke released in the year 1982, was the first version of coca – cola that included 0 sugar, which meant a huge deal to the company, since this way it was able to diversify into a completely new target – market. The design here included the at this point classical coca – cola wave, with the classical font present in “Diet”, whereas a bold font for “Coke” symbolized the start of a light re-brand which would follow 3 years down the road.



1985 – 1987
In the year 1985, the Coca – Cola company decided to make a bold move, which was also symbolized by the bold logo they used to market this move. At this point in time, Pepsi entered the market, which created the number one clear – cut competitor for the coca – cola brand, and because of this Coca – Cola decided to change the formula for making their product. With this came also the new name “Coke”. This change was however not long lived because the response from the consumers of the product, wasn’t ideal to say the least. People began boycotting the Coca – Cola company, which forced coca – cola to return to its original formula, even though they ended up using a different kind of sugar for it. During this period, this logo was far more used on cans and bottle packagings than the original logo, and even nowadays its still being used in some countries around the world. In addition, during 2019 this logo was also used to promote the third season of Stranger Things, and not only that, for a limited time the company also brought back the formula associated with the logo in 1985. This was because the popular TV Show is set during this exact time period.





1987 – 1993
After the flop of the “New Coke”, and the boycott of its loyal customer base, the Coca – Cola Company decided it had no other choice than returning back to the classical design of its logo. Of course they couldn’t go back completely, and because of this they decided to change up the logo in a way that gave away the classic Coca – Cola feeling. Moreover, the font was made bolder and the word “Classic” was added in a all capitalized, and bolded way, in order for them to emphasize on the return to the classical coca – cola ways.



However, afterwards they realized that they could still use elements of the re-brand that flopped earlier titled “ Coke”. However this time, since they did not want it to flop again, they decided to incorporate the title into the original logo. With that , the “Coke” logo got a bit of a more modern re-work, and was essentially inserted into the classical logo. For this modernized logo, they stripe was also expanded, in a more 3D way, which now resembled more of a ribbon. The stripe, apart from the classical white, included a The word “Coke” is then added at the bottom right, resulting in a very nice aesthetic combination of the old and the new. The re-designed logo got a much better reaction from Coca – Cola customers than the previous one, and because of this, the logo is still used in some countries around the world to this day.



1993 – 2002
In 1993, Coca – Cola decided to bring back fragments of the circle logo design from 1947. The logo was however stylized differently than the original one, in order to reflect the new age it was brought into. This logo also came to be together with the famous Coca – Cola polar bear advertisements that began airing in the year 1993 as well. The parts of the original logo that were kept together for this new logo as well are the red circle with the coca – cola bottle inside and the font. The red used in this logo is however a bit brighter, and it features two reflective marks on the edges of the circle.



Additionally, the bottle is also updated in color, where now it features the completely black bottle with white fragments, whereas the one from 1947 featured a dark red-ish bottle. Furthermore, there are two white lines around the ages of the red circle, symbolizing the “shine” or in other words the popularity of the Coca – Cola brand at this point in time. Last but not least, is the bold word “Always” added to the circle logo on top. Once again, this logo was not however used on the packagings, but instead it was used as a logo for corporate and retail advertising. This logo was definitely one of the freshest ones at the time and provided a new, unique twist on the coca – cola logo stereotype.

2002 – 2007
In 2002, Coca – Cola brought back the ribbon after 9 years. In this newly designed logo, the ribbon changed from the previous grey – white to an additional color of yellow. The previous grey – white strip was much more distinctive than this one, whereas the new one resembles more of a shiny silver feel. With that, there are also white and yellow edges added to the ribbon.



Furthermore, the dark red that used to be featured on the “New Coke” packaging is brought back, to give this logo a more of an old – school feel, rewarding customers that have stuck with coca – cola for a long time now. In addition, the word “classic” is brought back as well, as a way to show the customers that they are indeed still using the classic recapture as they have used in the beginning. An interesting thing is also the fact that the yellow ribbon used in this logo marked the first time a color different than black, red or white was used in any Coca – Cola advertising up to this point. This design change can be also interpreted as a somewhat of a culture change on Coca – Cola’s side, or embracing the future.

2007 – Present
The year 2007 marked the logo that Coca – Cola uses until now was introduced to the world. This version marked a new era for the company, and because of that they decided to go with a simple, bold logo that took inspiration from the 1947 logo design once again. This time however, the notable absence is the coca – cola bottle, and the darker red. This red used in the logo has now become synonymous with the brand, and we can find it on every coca – cola bottle being sold in the world right now. In addition to the absence of the coca – cola bottle, this logo is absent of any other big attention – catching elements on the logo, instead opting to point all the attention at the name, and the color of the logo. This was a huge step in todays’ branding of Coca – Cola, because, because of this logo the company was able to establish itself just as Coca – Cola, with no additional slogans, designs or anything. This way the brand itself became the main point of the logo, and it has been like this ever since except for a few timely changes.



2009 – Present
After the company saw the success of its logo, they decided to bring an addition to its logo array, and created a logo that served as a the template for all their slogans, advertisements, bottle covers, trademarks, and other graphics. This logo once again features the ribbon, this time however in a purely white color, and the classic Coca – Cola writing.



Well, there it is ! The coca – cola company has had a ton of different logos over the years, but even through that, they have been able to manage to keep their brand identity intact. Throughout various “soft redesigns”, at no point have they been in a position where they would have to worry about losing customers because of a huge identity change, and that just speaks to the level of quality, Coca – Cola provides.

Author Bio



“Kristian is a Slovak music enthusiast who loves sports. When not working, Kristian loves watching hockey, basketball and checking out shoes… a lot. In the past few years he has also developed love for politics, which are able to make him incredibly mad at point. At @designbro offices you can find Kristian working on whatever he’s got going or you can find him next to the coffee machine.. There is no in between.”

Location : Amsterdam, Netherlands

Website Link : https://designbro.com/logo-design/

Social Media : Instagram : @kkikeno ; LinkedIn : Kristian Buocik










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