The product, which came out of a need to relieve morphine addiction, is commonly known as Coca-Cola – this is the J.S. Pemberton story.
The product that has given the world its best-known taste was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on May 8, 1886. Dr. John Stith Pemberton, a local pharmacist, produced the syrup for Coca-Cola, and carried a jug of the new product down the street to Jacobs’ Pharmacy, where it was sampled, pronounced “excellent” and placed on sale for five cents a glass as a soda fountain drink. Carbonated water was teamed with the new syrup to produce a drink that was at once “Delicious and Refreshing,” a theme that continues to echo today wherever Coca-Cola is enjoyed.
Pemberton suffered from a sabre wound sustained in April 1865, during the Battle of Columbus; his ensuing morphine addiction led him to experiment with various painkillers and toxins. The final versions he added coca and coca wines, eventually creating a recipe that contained extracts of kola nut and damiana, which he called Pemberton’s French Wine Coca.
Thinking that “the two Cs would look well in advertising,” Dr. Pemberton’s partner and bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, suggested the name and penned the now famous trademark “Coca-Cola” in his unique script. The first newspaper ad for Coca-Cola soon appeared in The Atlanta Journal, inviting thirsty citizens to try “the new and popular soda fountain drink.” Hand-painted oilcloth signs reading “Coca-Cola” appeared on store awnings, with the suggestion “Drink” added to inform passers-by that the new beverage was for soda fountain refreshment. During the first year, sales averaged a modest nine drinks per day.
Dr. Pemberton never realized the potential of the beverage he created. He gradually sold portions of his business to various partners and, just prior to his death in 1888, sold his remaining interest in Coca-Cola to Asa Griggs Candler. An Atlantan with great business acumen, Mr. Candler proceeded to buy additional rights and acquire complete control of the product.
On January 31, 1893, the logo was trademarked with the U.S. Patent Office. The words “Trade mark” are written in the tail of the “C” in Coca.
1890-1891 – Coca-Cola logo got some extra swirls. For one year only, the Coke logo gets a dramatic, swirly makeover.
1941-1960s – The words ‘Trademark Registered’ move out of the tail of the ‘C’. The trademark is noted below the logo, instead of inside it.
Since 1947, the Red Disc or “button” sign has been used to advertise Coca-Cola. The strong graphic image of the disc shape became a cornerstone for outdoor signage. In 1948, the discs began to be hung inside places of business as advertising and decoration.
1969 – That white wave. The Arden Square logo is unveiled. In a red box, the Coca-Cola script is underlined with a white ‘wave’, or ‘Dynamic Ribbon Device’. This is still used today.
What lessons can we take from Coca-Cola’s original, innovative and simplistic design? Seriously, if you ever need inspiration for your logo, you can surely find it here.
Lead with colour. Coca-Cola and red are synonymous. The company goes all-in when it comes to pushing its brand colours into its products and marketing – and it works. Use colour psychology to find a primary hue that fits your brand to “stimulate the appetite” of your own consumers.
Consider custom fonts. The Coca-Cola logo is particularly impressive because of the way the font clearly matches the personality and identity of its brand. That’s because it’s completely custom. As you develop your brand, get creative with how you can use or reimagine fonts, letters and shapes that aren’t off-the-shelf to make your brand truly unique.
Fun fact: This famous script logo of Coca-Cola was designed by the founder’s bookkeeper, Frank Mason Robinson, who said that the two “C”s would look fabulous in advertising.
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Famous logos: Part III – Starbucks
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Famous logos: Part V – MasterCard
Famous logos: Part VI – Nike
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