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Coca-Cola: New Year, New Look

by Mike Malz

The Coca-Cola Company seems to have taken part in the ever-growing #NewYearNewMe movement by rebranding Diet Coke, a classic favorite. The updated look comes with new flavors and a new campaign. But not to worry; The original taste of Diet Coke is here to stay and will continue to be available worldwide.

Today, branding is everything. The impact of your product starts with how it’s put together and presented to the customer. The packaging of your product becomes its trademark – it will either be easily recognized by consumers or it will finish second to a more-eye-catching competitor.

Most people in the packaging and labeling industry understand this concept. However, there are some corporations that may not be willing to risk changing the look of their product completely. The Coca-Cola Company is certainly willing to take that chance, especially in the face of declining sales of one of its top brands.
 

Welcoming the New Diet Coke

After 35 years, the zero-calorie drink now has sleek, colorful packaging in a 12-oz can that’s since been released all over North America. It will be sold individually and in packs of eight. Rafael Acevedo, Coca-Cola’s North American CEO, says that the enduring beverage company is trying to appeal to the next generation of sparkling soda drinkers.

“We know Diet Coke has all kinds of fans – from people who have loved its great taste since it launched in 1982 to Millennial men and women who are always looking to try new things,” he says.

Along with the new look have come new flavors. Coca-Cola’s research and development team spent two years testing which new flavors should be released. Their focus group included America’s youth who were given bold new flavors to try, ranging from craft beers to spicy sauces. Ultimately, the R&D team decided on Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange, and Twisted Mango. With these new tastes, Coca-Cola is hoping to appeal to newer fans of the brand while maintaining its existing ones.

Acevedo says that this rebranding will give soda drinkers other options to expand their palates. He says it comes down to a matter of preference. Many companies have attempted to rebrand their packaging, but don’t always make it a success. So, why take the risk of rebranding your products?
 

Taking Risks with Your Branding

According to FastPrint, one reason businesses should consider re-launching their products is to remain relevant. Over time, people tend to change their wants and desires and the markets need to keep up.

“The world is moving faster than ever and in the last few years, more companies than ever have been forced out of the market due to irrelevancy,” says Shaun Pagin from FastPrint.

He argues that strategic companies package their products in an easy and more relevant manner which beat out their competitors, whose packaging remains the same. It’s interesting that one company will beat out another solely because of their packaging. In fact, Pagin points out a preconceived notion of how packaging reflects the quality of the good. Whether this is true or not, is irrelevant. What is, is how people like “new.” People like easy. This is exactly what The Coca-Cola Company had in mind when designing its new cans.
 

The Minds Behind Diet Coke’s New Design

Essentially, the new Diet Coke not only brings bold new flavors, but bold packaging to entice the public do a double-take at least. The design team at The Coca-Cola Company put significant time and effort to make the rebranding a success.

According to James Sommerville, Coca-Cola’s VP of Global Design, the new packaging was a blend of the iconic model fans grew to love with a bright new vibe. He adds that they wanted to take their packaging into a new era, which would lead the way when writing the beverage company’s next chapter.

“This visual evolution elevates the brand to a more contemporary space, while still using at its foundation the recognizable core brand visual assets,” said Sommerville.

The Coca-Cola Company’s rebranding doesn’t stop there. It has implemented the change into many of the enterprise’s departments including communications. The same vertical bar will be seen on all of Diet Coke’s branding. For example, the iconic logo will be featured on their social media platforms as well as their advertising. Sommerville confirms that this was done for continuity purposes.

“It visualizes how the Diet Coke brand, the innovation – and the consumers who love Diet Coke – are continually on the move, with confidence,” he explained.

Sommerville says that the overall vision for the launch of the new Diet Coke is to make the company synonymous with innovation. They are looking to push the boundaries, but not so far as to lose the drink’s identity. Sometimes evolving is the only way.

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