Coca-Cola turns 125 this year, and while that’s good news for employees, shareholders, and fans of Coke, it’s likely rather a bitch for the design team. After all, how is anyone supposed to keep a brand portfolio that’s sold in 200 countries and consumed 1.7 billion times each day looking fresh? In the case of Diet Coke—introduced in 1982 and the first product extension of the Coke name—it means (for now, at least) a limited-edition can slated to hit stores in early September.
Retaining the can’s familiar bare-aluminum background, the new design super-magnifies a segment of the existing logo right where the “D” of Diet rests atop the “k” of Coke. The result is a modish and (for a global brand) even daring design that refuses to reveal the brand’s complete name. Which is the beauty of having a brand that’s already the best-selling diet soft drink in the world: You don’t have to worry about stuff like that.
The revamped Diet Coke cans—the work of San Francisco-based design firm Turner Duckworth—will remain on store shelves for an undisclosed period. In fact, just about everything about these 12 fluid ounces of design flair is undisclosed. The usually press-release-happy folks at Atlanta headquarters are playing this one surprisingly close to the vest, sending out cases of the new Diet Coke to “trendsetter[s] in the fashion and design world,” according to the accompanying card, but saying little else publicly. However, William White, group brand director for Diet Coke and Coke Zero, Coca-Cola North America, told Adweek in an email: “Fall is all about new looks and new energy, making this a great opportunity to give the Diet Coke can design a refreshing uplift that celebrates the season.” He added that “this new concept will only be around for a short time.”
At least that’s in keeping with the rest of the promo. The new can is piece of a partnership with fashion and beauty-trend Web magazine StyleCaster.com, which has anointed the new design as one of its “new looks for fall.” And you know how that trendy fashion stuff goes. Blink twice and it’s gone. Just for the record, Coke isn’t tampering with the formula for the stuff inside this new hipster can. Remember what happened with New Coke back in 1985? That was a branding lesson for one and all: Do what you want to the packaging, but leave the recipe alone.