The cola giant's global initiative for its core brand is set to hit the U.S. on virtually all Coca-Cola
signage-outdoor boards, delivery vehicles, vending machines, point-of-purchase materials, sides of buildings, restaurant signs and bus shelters. Can and bottle designs will not be changed.
A guidebook explaining the graphics is slated to be sent to U.S. bottlers in the next few weeks.
The move comes as archrival Pepsi-Cola Co. rolls out new blue packaging and updated graphics for its core Pepsi-Cola brand. Also, Cadbury Schweppes is starting a two-year conversion to a worldwide design for its Schweppes brand of mixers, flavored beverages and seltzers, according to a company newsletter.
Once a unified look is established, Schweppes will determine if a singular global positioning is possible, an executive familiar with the project said.
Coca-Cola, which spent more than $1.4 billion on global advertising last year, declined to say how much it is spending on this project, which has been in the works for more than a year.
The graphics, via Lipson Alport Glass & Associates, a Chicago-based design and brand consulting company, already have been implemented in several European and Latin American countries.
REFRESHING THE BRAND
Kimberly Orton, director of brand graphics for Coca-Cola, called the project a "systemwide global refreshment of the brand" and not a reaction to Pepsi's make-over.
The new graphics play up Coca-Cola's existing design elements, including its script logo and curvy glass bottle, featuring oversize water droplets, crushed ice and more depth to the script type.
Three looks have been created that can be used for signs in various shapes, and can be translated into different languages.
"It is about having the relevant graphics connect with the consumer," Ms. Orton said. "It is much more contemporary than what you've been seeing."
"The real challenge was to find a way to revitalize the brand as it reaches the next stage of its growth," said Eliot Schreiber, senior VP at Lipson Alport. "This is not about a radical revolutionary redesign."
Ms. Orton said the new graphics, an initiative started by Sergio Zyman, Coca-Cola's chief marketing officer, will roll out systemwide without fanfare, receiving no ad or promotional support.
Tom Pirko, president of beverage industry consultancy Bevmark, said the update is an important move.
"The vitality of the brand depends on freshness and a constant sense of renewal," he said. "You can't have the same old thing. Not that the old thing isn't good."
Mr. Pirko added that Pepsi's launch of new packaging, to coincide with its 100th anniversary this year, adds a sense of urgency to the Coca-Cola project.
"You have a competitive situation here between red and blue," he said. "One can't do one thing without the other responding."