In its 25th August issue, Businessweek published an article entitled "Coke's New Design Direction". It brought to the fore the strategy implemented over five years by David Butler, Vice President in charge of design. This is based on four fundamental ideas:
admission: The brand, which has one of the most powerful
graphical identities, had lost is sense
of design and its coherence.
The iconic glass bottle was replaced by plastic bottles bereft of style and aluminium cans on which the brand name and the "ribbon" vied for attention among bubbles, various marketing blurbs and promotional offers. Each year the brand launched new products (vending machines, promotional items, etc.), new designs for cans, and others, without overall design guidelines.
strategic choice: He shares with Yves Behar, founder of the
Fuseproject Agency, who he appointed as designer for the brand, the idea that,
" Design is not a short term fix, it's a long term engagement that
requires you to think about how design affects everything that touches the
consumer - from product to packaging to marketing to retail to the take home
experience." They then decided
that any project initiated by Coca Cola had to meet three fundamental
requirements: it should be - consistent
with the identity of the brand / intensify customer experience / consistent
with the rationale of sustainable development.
The result was for instance the eight aluminium bottles launched during the 2008 Olympic Games: they are a modern image of the traditional bottle / the metal gives the consumer a real sensation of cold and the bottle can be re-closed / the bottle is made of recycled aluminium and is itself recyclable.
up a design-management tool: The "Design Machine" is an Internet
tool that provides Coca Cola the reassurance that all objects, leaflets,
promotions and bottles that are produced worldwide conform to the stylistic and
graphical guidelines of the brand.
- An approach to design that respects internal culture: "If I'm at a meeting with manufacturing people, I'll say, 'How can we make the can feel colder longer?'", he says as an example. "Or, 'How can we make the cup easier to hold?'" In doing so, he is speaking of design – without actually using the term – in the language of engineering and production, and by doing so, permits them to join in the process.
Those who have understood its importance have enhanced this method by making design a key element in "customer experience": It has to evoke in the customer the feeling that the product is aesthetic (the "right to beauty") / functional (practical) and should provide an experience (sensuous, for example). Now that is a great plan!
A recent study by Peer Insight of 40 Fortune 500 companies for the period 2000/2005 shows that the companies that make design and consumer experience a core element of their strategy have seen their share rates rising 10 times faster than the S&P index.