Adonis Diaries

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Coca-Cola: “Well, what do you mean by Design…”?

In the interview with Debbie Millman, David Butler, Vice President of Design at Coca-Cola said:

“In 2004, Coca-Cola decided to open a position of Vice President of Design and hired me.  My first task was to getting familiar with the archieves and the story of Coca-Cola.  I asked achevist Phil Mooney: “If I were to learn about design, where would I start?” Phil replied: “Well, what do you mean by Design…”?

So I asked Phil about packaging, the role of bottle contour, the point-of-sale materials, the posters, the clothing lines that Coca-Cola designed in the 80’s…

It turned out that in 1916, Coca-Cola was the first franchise to design its chain stores.  In the same year, the design brief for the bottle stated two requirements:

First, the bottle should be unique and be found in the dark among all other bottles, and

Second, when broken, the shattered Cola glasses should be recognized as part of Coca-Cola


The first redesign job of Butler was the vending machines, most preponderant in the US and Japan (70% of sales in Japan are done through vending machines).  A redesigned door of the machine and a 44 inches screen monitor were added to display all the digital content, thus providing an extra connection platform with teenagers…

Butler hired Bruce Duckworth to redesign Coca logo: Who needs to show bubbles? Isn’t Coca-Cola drink bubbly enough

The two themes recurring are: Connectedness and optimism. 

The 3 main features are: Red, the Spencerian script, and the shape of the bottle...

Do you know that 25% of world population consume Coca-Cola, in 206 countries

In Mexico, every individual drinks Coca-Cola three times a day...Butler was thus transferred to Mexico for six months, and he is learning Spanish

Wherever there is a disaster (hurrican, earthquakes…) Coca-Cola produces only water and distribute free bottles.

Coca-Cola has the largest distribution network and has far more trucks on the road than FedEx, DHL, and UPS combined

Coca-Cola is ideal for emergency situations because of its wide transport networks around the world to almost every village in remote regions…

Pepsi designed a 2l bottles as it discovered that people are inclined to drink unlimited of soda when readily available and managed to compete with Coca-Cola. 

Why people behave as cultist by exclusively selecting one of the brown sugar-water soda brands?

Note: David Butler joined Studio Archetype for building digital brands with Clement Mok before being hired by Coca Cola.  Debbie Millman published “Brand thinking…” and interviewed 22 brand designers




October 2021

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