The whole world in its hands

Affecting 146 markets globally, the new redesign of Diet Coke offers more than meets the American eye.

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The typical Diet Coke® drinker was sure to notice the product's fresh new look when it began appearing in stores this past April. Effervescing bubbles, replacing a pinstriped background, plus a stylized icon of the signature Coca-Cola soda-fountain glass echoes this late '90s retro look that today's consumers can't seem to avoid, whether buying clothing, kitsch, or now Coke. But, like the resurgence of Madras shirts and earth tones, how long before the new style becomes the norm? As the last empty Diet Coke can hits the recycling bin, the old look of Diet Coke will be all but forgotten. Yet this subtle transitioning from the new to the standard is undoubtedly desirable to Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. In this latest graphic redesign, Coca-Cola is looking at standards in the broadest sense of the word, and it's looking to standardized packaging for Diet Coke as its vehicle. Redesigned by SBG Enterprise (San Francisco, CA), a rollout of redesigned Diet Coke will extend into 146 countries when it's completed. Except for some obvious differences in language, weight conversion and the fact that outside of the U.S., Diet Coke is called Coca-Cola Light, the packaging will become consistent. Says David Canaan, senior managing partner of the design firm (formerly known as SBG Partners), "This program was driven purposely to make [Diet Coke] as consistent an international brand as possible. This allows Coca-Cola to do some international marketing it couldn't do before." And just how do you make one design appealing to consumers in 146 diverse worldwide markets? "Research," says Canaan. "A lot of research was done on the packaging to ensure there is a universal appeal and that there are some signature elements. We gave a lot more strength to the 'diet' and 'light' names. The bubbles infer things about refreshment and cold." "It's Americana," he continues, "the soda-fountain glass has global appeal, despite its roots in Americana." For SBG Enterprise, the project marks one of its first while under the affiliation of the newly formed Enterprise Identity Group (San Francisco, CA). This global consultancy of the marketing communications services company WPP Group, plc, (London, England) comprises firms with headquarters in Hong Kong, Taipei, London and New York and San Francisco. Its goal is to be equipped to handle all aspects of international project management, as more clients like Coca-Cola gain a greater global perspective. Planet-wide growth SBG Enterprise isn't the only company addressing the growing demand for global packaging design. Advertising giant Interpublic (New York, NY) has formed design firm The Coleman Group Worldwide, LLC, (New York, NY), and promptly acquired Planet LLC, an international packaging and brand identity firm. It is now known as Coleman Planet & Partners (London, England). Planet joins industrial design company Coleman Schmidlin & Partner (Basel, Switzerland), which recently established a new office in Hamburg, Germany. Meanwhile, anticipating expansion in the Eastern European market, Desgrippes Gobé & Associates (New York, NY) recently opened an office in Budapest, Hungary. Says Marc Gobé of the firm, "By adding Budapest to our already established network of offices in New York, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul, we can participate in the growth of Eastern Europe as a new, emerging market." Unlike Madras shirts and earth tones, it seems this turn-of-the-century trend toward global oneness may be here to stay. More proof that while the world keeps growing, it's getting smaller and smaller all the time.

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