Few Smiles for Pepsi's New Face

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Pepsi's new look changes across the product line.
Pepsi's new look changes across the product line.
Pepsi's recently announced identity makeover from Omnicom's Arnell Group has been the object of a few grimaces in the design world. The logo and packaging redesign for the mega-brand's suite of soft drinks has morphed the iconic mark's white band into a happy mouth, of sorts. For original Pepsi, the band will represent a smile, the essence of the brand, while the slightly indulgent, yet controlled Diet Pepsi has a bit of a grin and Diet Pepsi Max gets full out laughs. Arnell Group founder Peter Arnell says all he did was tweak the original logo to reflect what consumers feel when they're with the brands.

"I think [the series of smiles] will be immediately apparent [to consumers]," Arnell says. "We have to separate the inspiration used from the interpretation of a graphic. The intent is not a singular message. It's what the smile means to you. It's an iconic graphic that's also happy. We created a hybrid between what Pepsi is and its new attitude, the inspiration of a smile."

Creativity made the rounds and asked a branding bunch for their thoughts on Pepsi's new case of the giggles, below.

Pepsi identities throughout the years.
Pepsi identities throughout the years.
Sagi Haviv, partner and principal designer, Chermayeff & Geismar

Maybe Pepsi wanted the new logo to feel lighthearted, but instead it feels lightweight, especially for a brand of this magnitude. This is unfortunate, because they took one of the most recognizable symbols of the 20th century and sacrificed it exclusively for the sake of change. It's the Sarah Palin effect: receive a lot of short-term attention for the long-term cost of brand equity.

Graham Clifford, principal, Graham Clifford Design

While I applaud Pepsi's attempt at simplification, once again, it's (unfashionably) late to the party. Coca-Cola's recent work through Turner Duckworth is clean, fresh, perfect for the brand and pretty darn difficult to beat—it didn't even have to change the logo, just how it was executed.

Jakob Trollbäck, founder and creative drector, Trollbäck + Company

It's hard to judge the overall success from a printed logo. So much of today's communications are moving media. Is there a plan to add motion for online and TV presence? There's an opportunity to use the new logo as a transitional device that signals change. Pepsi could, for example, have the old logo spin around to form the abstract smiley face. Voilá, attitude!

Brian Collins, chairman and chief creative officer, COLLINS

Coca-Cola has issued itself as a flag—it stands for something consistently. Pepsi is more of a mirror. It's been successful by saying we're the choice of the new generation, we're the Pepsi generation. Whatever is hot, now and up-to-date is packaged and sent out—it's Michael Jackson, it's Britney Spears, whatever's about to explode. In an attempt to be relevant, Pepsi is not as anchored in a sense of authenticity as Coca-Cola. The attempt is smart and inspired, but the question is: How much did Pepsi throw out to be of-the-moment? Only the marketplace will tell.

Mary Anne Masterson, strategy director, Frog Design

Pepsi stepped away from its classic element instead of refining it. The width of the "smile" changing from product to product doesn't work. It removes a key item of the mark and puts the burden on consumers to understand what the new "smile" means.
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