If you’ve passed the soft drink aisle in your local supermarket in recent days, you may have noticed that Coca-Cola’s iconic red can has received several face lifts. For the rest of the summer, you will be able to get the can in blue, lime green, pink, purple and orange varieties. This is obviously a blatant gimmick to sell more units; much like last year’s “Share a Coke” campaign. However, we also think it can teach small business owners a valuable lesson when it comes to innovation in the face of tradition.
The classic Coca-Cola can is one of the most widely recognised designs in the world. Indeed, the can is often used by video conferencing companies such as Lifesize to show off their equipment’s colour accuracy — precisely because everyone knows what “Coke red” is supposed to look like.
Despite this, the company has decided to throw more than fifty years of tradition out the window via the introduction of a veritable rainbow of new colours. This was achieved by adjusting the two-colour printing technique on the production line and then manually re-stacking the pallets so that shop owners received all six colours.
“Everyone has an individual expression of themselves, and often they express that style through colour,” explained Coca-Cola brand manager, Angeline Lee. “We are embracing that self-expression through colourful summer packaging – six unique versions of the 250ml variety.”
From a design perspective, the company was careful to choose colours that retained a similar vibrancy with an identical font and wave logo. Nevertheless, this is a bold move by Coke which has been marketed in the exact same colour since the 1960s. Apparently, new cans are just the starting point, with more big changes coming from Coke in the months to come.
What this teaches us is that you shouldn’t refuse to change your company’s legacy or founding principles out of hand. In short, don’t be afraid to try something different! If a change from tradition can drive more business to your company, it’s probably worth pursuing.
When you’ve built something from the ground up, it’s easy to become overly attached to the existing foundations; be it a brand name, logo or ailing product in an otherwise robust portfolio. Our advice is to stop being precious and take a scalpel to your baby. After all, even Coke is willing to mess with its iconic red logo. In business, nothing is sacred.