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Coca-Cola has introduced a new Diet Coke can design for fall 2011, with Turner Duckworth, a design firm based in San Francisco, re-imagining the familiar Diet Coke can. The most striking element is the logo is blown up in size, making the script “D” in Diet the only letter of the major brand logo which appears fully on the can! This move with the Diet Coke brand holds both great strategic branding and creativity lessons.

5 Branding and Creativity Lessons

1. The Diet Coke logo violates the can’s physical space.

Absent the self-imposed restriction of  containing what you’re doing to the physical space available to you, all kinds of new creativity options open up. How often do we ask about how much of something we have to fill? Forget that. Fill up the creatively appropriate amount of what needs to be filled without a concern for physical space or completeness boundaries.

2. You can be bold and still hedges some bets.

For all the boldness of not including the product’s full name in the major logo treatment, Coca-Cola hedges its bets with 4 other full, albeit smaller, logos on the can. It pulls the design back from being completely edgy, but it strikes a good balance between creativity and brand imperatives. Some will claim though that hedging bets went into overkill mode with 4 other logos.

3. Incompleteness creates attention.

Since the major logo doesn’t fully display the product’s name, it creates both attention (from a new, striking design) and forces the customer to use imagination to fill in what’s missing. When you can get an aluminum can to tweak engagement, you have a winner on your hands.

4. You CAN stretch your strengths.

Coca-Cola knows it can take advantage of an iconic logo’s ability to be stretched to freshen it and create interest. When a brand element is so well known (in this case, the logo), it’s an opportunity to play against the strength and expand how people view the brand. And what applies to consumer and business brands applies to personal brands, too. It’s important though to know how much of a stretch people will accept from the brand before making a move. You want to stretch, but not break your brand.

5. Not every promotional offer is about price.

Too often, we think of a promotion (which one of my mentor’s drilled into me is “a short term change in the marketing mix”) as only focusing on price, discount, or “get more for your dollar right now” offers. If you look at any element of the marketing mix as a promotional opportunity, however, you can easily get to a short term revamp of a packaging design. Additionally, as an AdWeek article points out, Coca-Cola has also introduced a short term change in the publicity element of the marketing mix, by being a bit mysterious about how long the can change will last.

Summary

What are your thoughts about the Diet Coke can change? Is it simply interesting or do you think people will drink more Diet Coke than they would already have this fall?

To me, it’s a really smart promotion with strong banding and creativity lessons. Plus this move is a relatively easy strategy others could employ, if they’re smart about it and have strong enough logo recognition in their own market to pull it off successfully.  – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at brainzooming@gmail.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your brand strategy and implementation efforts.

 

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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17 Responses to “Diet Coke Can Redesign – Branding and Creativity Lessons”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Biggest problem … it doesn’t match the rest of the Coke line now (and will make them look dowdy). And what about their bottles?

    • Mike Brown says:

      You hit on several unanswered questions in the AdWeek article, Dave. I think the bigger issue is the look of the cans relative to Diet Coke bottles. While it may look different than the rest of the Coke line, I’d be okay with that in the sense that a promotion for one line in a brand family doesn’t have to extend to all the other lines. And if Diet Coke takes business from within the Coke family because of the re-design, so be it. 

  2. PaulBeilman says:

    You have to either be launching a new brand or have a very strong, recognizable brand to pull this off.  I do like the lines, fonts, colors, and space of their packaging.  The problem I see is that it stands alone and “may” not be associated with their other Coke products.

  3. Cheri Tabel says:

    Nice post, Mike! I think there are strong branding and creativity lessons to be learned from this promotion, but will it garner new drinkers? I doubt it. Soda drinkers – IMO – are super brand loyal (some might say picky). A design change won’t break that bond. It will make Diet Coke drinkers look pretty cool, though.

  4. Chuck Dymer says:

    The new design is also a slam on Pepsi’s super slim type font. It’s an in-your-face testament to the strength of their logo.

  5. Steve Jones says:

    I like point #3 in particular… incompleteness creates attention. The human mind fills in the gaps when it cannot see everything in the scene. Because of the strength of the Diet Coke brand, it is literally impossible for most people to look at the logo and NOT think Diet Coke.

    • Mike Brown says:

      That’s my thinking on it Steve. With that strong of a brand, people aren’t going to fill in the blanks and not come up with Diet Coke, especially since the colors are the same (and there’s still all those other logos on the can!).

  6. Mike Brown says:

    Agree about the need for a strong brand to pull this off, Paul, but I think people will still make the association with Coke.

  7. Poor design. It doesn’t create lust for a sip of coke. Diet or not :/

  8. Jim says:

    Great post, Mike. I love the new design and it does make me feel like Diet Coke is a bit more contemporary than Diet Pepsi. And I’m a Diet Pepsi drinker. For me, the magic of an iconic brand and logo comes from being able to recognize it and relate to it even if you only see a piece of it. Or if you see it in another language. In a way, I wish they had not added the extra smaller logos but i get why they did. Jim.

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