The evolution of the Coca-Cola Logo
In 2022, Coca-Cola’s brand was valued at 97.9 billion U.S. dollars – a long way from its humble beginnings in 1886 in a pharmacy in downtown Atlanta. How did it shoot to global fame?
Considered one of the world’s most recognisable logos, the Coca-Cola mark is also one of the most valuable in the world.
The easily recognisable script of the mark is enhanced by its consistent presentation in red and white colourway, which stands out on the shelves and is eternally associated with the brand.
But how did it all begin, and how did the brand evolve into the globally recognised giant that it is today?
A Distinctive Font
One of the most distinctive elements of the mark is its font. The world-famous font was created in 1885 by a bookkeeper named Frank Robinson, who borrowed the design from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ Inland Black Letter typeface.
The Coca-Cola ‘Spenserian’ script mark was registered as a trade mark in the US in 1905 (based on first use dating back to1887) and in 2011 the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognized his original logo as ‘one of the most famous trademarks globally’.
Red and White
Alongside the distinctive stylisation of the wording, the colour red is so closely associated with the brand that arguably consumers rely on its as much as the name itself when making their soft drink selection.
In the early days, Coca-Cola was being bottled around the US by different bottlers and each used its own label. When shipping the product around the country, the barrels were originally painted red so tax agents could distinguish them from alcohol during transport.
In 1892, the brand's first wall painted posters were designed with a red background with white letters and this distinctive presentation of the mark has been used across the advertising materials for the brand ever since.
The red colour is a mixture of three different shades and, because it is not a single Pantone shade, has never been registered as a trade mark.
In 1941, Coca-Cola settled on the definitive form of its script logo. The trade mark information was also taken out of the logo and going forward this was written underneath the mark. Eventually, this took the form of an ‘R’ at the end of the logo.
The next step in the evolution of the Coca-Cola logo was the introduction of the white wave, known as a 'Dynamic Ribbon Device’, in 1969.
The mark evolved into the presentation of the word within a square and
added the word 'Enjoy', replacing the previous 'Drink' that had been used in adverts.
This simple word became a recognisable part of the Coca-Cola brand for years and is used to this day.
In 1987 and 2003, attempts were made to modernise the device and changes were made to the ribbon to include more colour:
However, even in these attempts to mix up the basis of the mark, and the colours in which it was presented, it did not stray far from its original format.
In 2015, Coca-Cola launched its ‘one brand’ strategy, which united Coca‑Cola, Diet Coca‑Cola, Coca‑Cola Zero, and Coca‑Cola Life under the iconic Coca‑Cola brand.
The distinctive branding elements of its original product are used across the product range and not only create a link between the sub-brands, but also reinforce the connection between the original brand and its distinctive style and colour.
As it is clear to see, over 130 years of history the Coca-Cola logo really hasn't changed much at all.
The original design was very much a logo of its time and the Coca-Cola logo used today hardly differs from the logo introduced all the way back in 1887.
Although there were regular tweaks to the script in the early days, this has now been the same for over 80 years, and the white wave introduced in 1969 has also endured – albeit with its form changing slightly.
After experiments with colour and style, it's now returned to a simpler single white ribbon.
The Coca-Cola logo is an incredible example of how a logo can endure alongside changes in both fashion and consumer requirements.
Of course, at different times it has offered different unique forms of its product and mark – for example, the 2021 ‘Real Magic’ campaign and the current popularity of personalised labels.
But the consistency in use and presentation of its core branding has formed the backbone of the brand’s continued success for more than 100 years.
Trade Mark Attorney, Novagraaf UK