Grading Diet Coke’s Makeover
Adweek asks the experts By Robert Klara
Yes, it’s been around that long. Diet Coke first hit store shelves back in 1982. Long-suffering dieters, sick of saccharine colas with aftertaste that lingered for weeks, embraced the aspartame-sweetened brew—and it’s been the No. 1 seller in its category ever since. But while keeping the 29-year-old formula is de rigueur, a can design from the Reagan era is a bit less plausible. So Coke’s done some periodical tweaking. The new design, first reported on by Adweek, which walks the fine line between heritage homage and hipster minimalism, will make its limited-edition debut this fall. But does it work? We asked eight top designers and brand makers to give us their unsweetened opinions.
“Coke has managed to use an attention-grabbing giant graphic representation of their logo to pique consumer curiosity and interest on shelf, while downplaying the ‘diet’ word that is so off-putting to consumers. Well done.” —Stuart Leslie, 4sight inc.
“I love the modulation of the brand’s visual signature without changing the core graphic elements, but true admiration will be offered when we see how (if at all) this design shifts consumer perception of cool.” —Dean Crutchfield, independent brand strategist
“This is a great redesign that falls in line with the latest Coca-Cola cans: absolute simplicity and boldness. No visual fizz, no gratuitous waves, no fake sweat drops. Just a big-ass Diet Coke logo.” —Armin Vit, UnderConsideration LLC
“They really aren’t doing anything interesting other than scaling the mark 1,000 percent and trying to capture that elusive ‘edgy’ demographic by making the design vaguely unintelligible. I was left wondering, ‘Why bother?’” —Nick de la Mare, frog design
“I applaud their pushing the boundaries. Creating something bold and unique with a heritage brand can hold back many from breaking the conventional boundaries of branding, but in this case it didn’t.” —Tammy Vaserstein, Moxie TM
“While this newly designed can daringly breaks the mold of traditional soda can design, I can’t say I like it. The design is clumsy and is obviously new for new’s sake.” —Jacob Cass, Just Creative Design
“Coke is carefully distilling the most distinctive elements of its brand heritage and introducing packaging that is historically sensitive but transformational.” —Richard Shear, The Shear Partnership
“This is pretty cool but not particularly original. Brands have tried to pull off the too-big-to-fit design option for years.” —Chris Lehmann, Landor