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Iconic designs have been influencing and changing the way people view, use and distribute products for years. To this day it is hard to find an item on the shelf of any store that hasn't been influenced by a design icon in some way. An iconic design can be defined as an object or product that is widely recognised throughout groups of people, usually on a worldwide basis. Coca-Cola is a perfect example of a design icon, being known globally and influencing companies around the world.
This report aims to explain how and why the Coca-Cola brand has become so iconic and how it has influenced and changed the world of design around it. This will include both the logo, which is known worldwide, and the famous contour bottle, which in itself is an icon. It will be focusing on different aspects of Coca-Cola using a range of sources to help discuss what makes each of them iconic, and what the impact has been on society because of the image they create. It will also be looking at how the product has affected other companies and whether there has been a change in the way of advertising and selling a design as a result of Coca-Cola being so successful in the market. Within in the report will be some background history on the company itself and how it got to where it is now. This will help show how the brand started and how it has been developed over the years while still maintaining its design icon status.
1.3 The report will be structured using headings and sub-headings to outline what each section is about, making navigation throughout easier. Research gathered on the company will be sourced using the 'Harvard System of Referencing'. A bibliography of all the sources used will be placed at the end of the report, including all internet URLs that have been used to help gain information on the Coca-Cola Company and how it has become one of the world's biggest design icons.
2.1 A carbonated liquid was created by John Pemperton in 1886 in a small pharmacy, named Jacob's Pharmacy. This liquid was tasted and trialled by customers entering the store. Pemperton received positive feedback about the drink, so began selling it from the shop for a minimal price of five cents a glass. This liquid was later named 'Coca-Cola' by Pemperton's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson. Over the next few years, the brand name Coca-Cola was introduced to its first president 'Asa Griggs Candler'. It was this man that affectively advertised the brand in a way that no one had seen before, placing the logo everywhere, making people recognise it straight away. The logo was found placed on things ranging from clocks to calendars (Coca-Cola Company, 2010). This was an innovative way selling a product to the public.
2.2 As the product popularity grew and became widely known, more people began to get involved within in the business. Joseph Biedenharn, a businessman from Mississippi, saw another market that could be taken advantage of within Coca-Cola; he became the first person to bottle the Coca-Cola liquid. He sent samples of the bottled beverage to the current president of the company, Asa Griggs Candler, a successful innovative businessman, from which he responded with no interest. Candler missed this opportunity when five years later, Benjamin Thomas and Joseph White, secured the rights to bottle and sell the drink (Coca-Cola Company, 2010). This meant that copies of the drink could be made and sold in bottles. To counteract this, the company created a distinctive, new bottle shape, to make people know when they were drinking the genuine Coca-Cola (Coca-Cola Company, 2010) This bottle shape will be looked at in more detail under the heading 'The Iconic Bottle'.
2.3 Robert Woodruff was the next big thing to happen to the Coca-Cola Company. When he took over the presidency in 1923, the company began to expand even further, even being part in the 1928 Olympic Games. For the 60 years that Woodruff was president for, Coca-Cola experienced massive expansion to further more places in the world (Coca-Cola Company, 2010). After 70 years of the brand Coca-Cola being successful, the company decided on widening the market and introducing new flavours of drink, such as 'Fanta' and 'Sprite' (Coca-Cola Company, 2010). Coca-cola continued to be successful for many more years, and even to this day continue to expand.
3. The Iconic logo
3.1 When Frank Robinson thought of the name 'Coca-Cola', he intended on making it stand out in advertising campaigns against other brands. The two C's in the name were thought to help catch people's attention. The logo's font style, by the name of 'Spencerian Script', was also chosen, and scripted by Frank Robinson. This was seen as the leading form of formal handwriting at the time in the United States. The style has since has since been associated with the Coca-Cola brand and continues to flow (Computer Arts: Design Icon). This makes the logo very iconic as it has maintained the same style of font through-out all of the years, even to this present day.
3.2 The colours of the logo itself are said to be somewhat iconic. The red, cursive script on the white background presents itself clearly in advertisements, making the word 'Coca-Cola' stand out amongst most others. The logo has sometimes been shown using white text with red background, which has similar affect and is still very much associated with Coca-Cola.
Evolution of the Coca-Cola Logo
3.3 This image shows the logo throughout the years, how it has transformed but somewhat kept the same style. The 'Spencerian Script' is present in all of the different forms of logo, with an exception to the first logo of 1886 before Frank Robinson had introduced his own design. From the 1950s onwards, colour has been introduced, making the logo stand out even more. This would be because of the availability of colour printing whereas before this time only black and white printing would have been available.
4. The Iconic Bottle
Classic Coca-Cola Contour Bottle4.1 The first Coca-Cola bottle, designed by 'Earl R. Dean' of the Root Glass Company in 1915, is said to have evolved into an iconic classic (The Coca-Cola Company, 2006-2010). The bottle was originally intended to look like the two ingredients of the drink itself, coca leaf or the kola nut. This was not that case as Earl. R. Dean became inspired by the shape of a cocoa pod and continued focusing the bottles design on the smooth, attractive look of the pod. Using this inspiration, he put the form of a cocoa pod into the design of the bottle (Andrew Gibbs, 2009), thus creating the iconic shape which is the Coca-Cola Contour bottle.
Prototype Contour Bottle4.2 To get to this stage in design, prototypes had to be made in order to test the bottle, making sure it was fit for its use and could easily be stored on a shelf without risk of breaking. The original prototype consisted of the same shape, but with a wider diameter in the middle of the bottle. When tested along a conveyor belt, it was deemed unstable so never made it into production (Andrew Gibbs, 2009). This gave Earl R. Dean room to improve upon the design helping perfect the shape and size of the bottle.
4.3 Earl R. Dean became part of the bottle designing process after the Roots Glass Company was entered into a competition with other bottle manufacturers to;
"design a distinctive bottle - a bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped that, even if broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was" (Lindstrom, Milton, 2005).
This bottle shape means that it can be picked up and gripped with ease, while still maintaining an attractive, smooth, ergonomic and highly recognisable look. As well as being the shape of a cocoa pod, the contour bottle is referred to as the 'hobble-skirt' design. This is based on its uncanny resemblance to a dress that used to be worn around the early 1900s. It was narrow below the knees causing restricted movement and affected how the women walked while wearing it, hence the name 'hobble-skirt' (The Coca-Cola Company, 2006-2010). This way of viewing the bottle attracts more people the buy the product. It was also thought that the bottle resembled a women's body shape, with curves in the right places. The iconic cocoa pod shape of the bottle was derived from this competition after Dean had sketched the prototype resulting in the competition being won by Roots Glass Company.
Throughout the years the Coca-Cola bottle has changed, but always kept in touch with the original iconic bottles shape.
5 Influence and Impacts on Society and Other Companies
The Coca-Cola Company has produced a variety of different advertisements on both television and other paper based methods, but none more recognisable than the Christmas Santa Claus Coca-Cola advertisements. The modern-day image of Santa Claus in his red suit and with his white beard was actually influenced by Coca-Cola. It first appeared in magazines in 1931, which were widely viewed and for three decades the image of the Coca-Cola Santa was acknowledged. The Santa Claus most people think of today is largely based on this Coca-Cola advertising (The Coca-Cola Company, 2006 - 2010): this somewhat makes Santa Claus another icon of Coca-Cola. To this day the famous Coca-Cola Christmas television advert with the large red lorry is seen as the start of Christmas.
5.2 As well as being a design icon, Coca-Cola has had various impacts on community, economy and society. The company takes an interest in charities around the world, offering aid to areas in need such as Africa and parts of China. A sum of 2.5 million dollars was given over a three year period to Africa to help the communities within. This would have had a huge impact on the African community helped to supply aids and medicine to help prevent disease. A total sum of 82 Million dollars has been invested in communities around the world (The Coca-Cola Company, 2006-2010).
5.3 Other companies have also been influenced by the Coca-Cola brand. The shape and design of bottles in other brands has followed in the footsteps of Coca-Cola and a change is clear. Being the first company to design a bottle like the contour one, it is inevitable that other companies would follow competing with new shaped bottles, such as the 'Pepsi' bottle that appeared in rivalry of Coca-Cola. This influence meant there was a change in market as the way of dispersing drinks changed, and bottles were introduced.
6.1 The Coca-Cola brand has influenced and changed the world of design around it, ranging from the way companies shape and create bottles to how a business is set up and run. The iconic logo of Coca-Cola is a prime example of how the Coca-Cola Company successfully advertised and got the product deep into the market, making everyone recognise and know what the brand was. Introducing the logo worldwide and displaying on everyday things, such as clocks and calendars so that people were forced to view the name 'Coca-Cola' in its stylish cursive script. The logo has definitely become iconic, as almost everyone would recognise it, and other companies strive to somewhat copy it.
6.2 The Contour bottle is also shown to be a massive iconic design, deeming the Coca-Cola brand as a design icon. The distinctive shape of the bottle had never been seen before and never had anyone designed a bottle resembling the cocoa pod. It was this shape that influenced the bottles design to be so iconic. Not only was it good looking and smooth; it was ergonomic and the perfect shape to carry on its purpose of being able to carry around a drink and storing it in small containers. The contour bottle will definitely be admired for years to come, maintaining its status as one of the world's most prestigious iconic designs. As well as being an icon for future designs, Coca-Cola has influenced other companies to follow in its footsteps.
6.3 The report has looked at various sources to gather information on the Coca-Cola Company and how it has become one of the world's biggest design icons. In conclusion, Coca-Cola has had a massive impact globally on the way bottles are designed, to how products are advertised and sold. Society has been affected by Coca-Colas way of marketing, displaying an image to the public that can be recognised everywhere.
Coca-Cola has been around for decades, and will be around for many more. It truly is a perfect example of a 'Design Icon'.