Last week I was in America. I thought I saw a lovely, simple, classic, 'back to basics' can of Coke. Turns out I was right.
Gorgeous, isn't it?
Someone at The Coca Cola Company came to their senses (probably Coke's new North American design director Moira Cullen) and they've changed the can back to this classic, iconic design. Coke has a rich design heritage and should be a brand that's as revered as Volkswagen or Knoll. Should be, expect until last week it churned out this shit.
All Coke can images from Coke Can Gallery.
This is part of what Richard Williams brilliantly calls the "add more steam school of design". You know the type of thing, when they redesign a frozen meal and they make the carrots a bit more orange and they add a bit more steam to the photo.
Picture taken from Chris Hester. Usual stuff applies.
Coke has gotten rid of all this. This month's Creative Review carries an article on the redesign and they say, "No more bubbles, no more drop shadows, no more extraneous detail". Well, thank fuck for that.
Except there's more to it than this. The can now features only trademarked elements and the decision to go with this design was influenced by "modern print techniques that can produce very strong solid colours on the cans". In the age of the design remix and with IP being rightly heralded as the future revenue model for designers Coke has found that the original design still achieves stand out and clarity.
Designed by Turner Duckworth, Coca-Cola believed "by over complicating its visual identity and packaging, it had diluted its brand and come to look more like a generic soft drink". No shit, Sherlock.
The previous designs were awful, diluting all that heritage into an also run of mediocrity that you see so often. So often.
And this is why designers are (still) wankers.
If you Google Ben Terrett, one of the top results is a Podcast I recorded with Paul where I state that designers are wankers. Well, most of the ones I've met...
You see, designers are so often their own worse enemy (for the record I agree with pretty much everything Bruce says there). Bowing to clients worst requests, endlessly free pitching and constantly slagging each other off.
How did the Coke can ever get so far down this terrible design road? Who's at fault for those previous designs? The consumer? The brand manager? A bit, sure, but a lot of that blame lays with the designers. The guys that added more steam. More bubbles. More "extraneous detail".
Too often designers get tied up in the client forest unable to see the wood for the invoices and producing shit like the previous Coke cans. That's why every other soft fizzy drink looks the same. That's why WHSmith is a "haze of tit and bum and bright colours". That's why (most) designers are wankers.
(And by the way, this blog is two years old today.)