TREY SPEEGLE continues our series of reflections by artists and designers on their choice for the perfect iconic symbol.
I know. It’s too obvious, right? I couldn’t help but choose Coca-Cola’s logo, for multiple reasons.
I’d like to buy the world a Coke
First, it’s known as soda pop, and no logo is more pop than Coke.Coca-Cola is pop. I didn’t know this until I did a bit of research, but based on Interbrand’s polling for Best Global Brand in 2011, Coke is the world’s most valuable brand; I believe it is also the most recognizable one in the world as well. By the law of pop-culture transitive properties, then Coca-Cola is the best logo. Ever. Right?
I’m a former magazine creative director who never studied design but ended up teaching both it and logo design, so I can speak with mock-authority. I have made a study of what makes a good logo, and I’ve designed a few myself (including the original branding for Bliss Spa, among others…) But nothing can compare with the Coke’s instant recognition on planet Earth.
Hang it on your wa-ho-ho-hol
Andy Warhol realized this instinctively when he decided to make paintings of Coca-Cola. In the same vein as his more famous Campbell’s soup can paintings, he repeatedly (and repeatedly) used the Coke bottle as his subject. I’m not sure whether at a distance of half a century and millions of collective years of brand indoctrination we can fully appreciate what a cracked idea this was in the 1960s. A painting of soda pop, with a logo? Whether he was the first or not, most people then, perhaps even today, would say, “That’s just stupid.”
Recently, a single Coke bottle painting with a cropped Coca-Cola logo in black on white sold at auction for $33 million. Was this astonishing price the raw power of the Coca-Cola brand? Or Andy Warhol auction fever? Or the two combined? I’m pretty sure no single company logo ever sold for more—unless you got the whole company with it. Incidentally, when Coca-Cola decided to do a book about its 125-year history, out of the countless ways its brand had been represented over more than a century, what single image do you think landed on the cover of that $650 coffee-table monster? A Warhol.
It’s the real thing
The Coca-Cola logo was created in 1885 by Frank Mason Robinson, bookkeeper to Coke’s founder John Pemberton. You can look up the rest of the history and evolution of the Coca-Cola logo and bottle, if you’re interested. I won’t bore you with the details here. Its origins were not that special, really. So why is it indellibly etched on our collective retinas? It may be only through all the sheer repetition and marketing on such a massive global scale that Coke has stayed on top. (Sorry, Pepsi. You can sponsor all the Super Bowl half-times you want; you’ll never make a dent in Coke’s dominance.)
When wwword asked what my favorite logo was and I said Coke, I was then asked if I drank it as a child. Well, believe it or not, my mother put in in my baby bottle. I’d say my love of Coke started pretty early. So now I can truly say, I am a child of POP.