Pepsi's New Logo

Concept: 2 out of 5
Execution: 2 out of 5
Yeah, but: If Nike bought Korean Air, this is what the logo would look like.

The Long Version: Like certain former spokespersons, Pepsi uses its massive resources to attract young people. As a result, they seem to spend as much time refreshing their company image as their customers; they've changed their logo substantially several times over the last twenty years, while Coke's has remained essentially the same since `85 - eighteen eighty-five.

As a consumer, when I'm looking at a product I consider how many different designs exist to solve the same basic problem. When I see a lot of variety, it tells me that there's either a diverse range of needs that are being accommodated, and/or that none of them have really gotten them right. Think cellular telephones. When a market niche (note to Americans: that word does not rhyme with "itch") is dominated by a single design, I take that as a sign that it works. Think toilet plunger.

Constantly changing one's corporate identity usually suggests that the company hasn't found one with lasting appeal, or that there is some other fundamental flaw in their market positioning. AT&T and ValuJet both come to mind. But Pepsi is unusual because constantly re-branding itself and re-introducing itself to the market is their actual strategy, as they strive to be up-to-the-moment and 'hip' in a way that only a multi-billion-dollar multinational company can be. They can always afford the coolest shoes. The problem is that approach - what my former boss would inadvertent call a "stragedy" - makes the right design a moving target. Even when they get a design that's perfectly in sync with the times, the times change. The old logo, with its ice-crystal background and oblique block typography was cutting edge once.

The new typography has moved away from the nineties-techno look in favour of a less formal rounded lowercase. They haven't completely lost their love of geometric letterforms, but now they're aping Futura instead of Eurostile. The 3D beach-ball look is gone; now they want you to see the logo as a smile, which is best seen by tilting your head sideways. Clearly, they're now trying to be the choice of the txt generation :)

The blue background is also much darker than the ice crystals design, with bottle caps to match. It's a darker and more saturated colour than Coke, and does make for a striking change. I do wonder if they're intentionally trying to differentiate themselves from that other brand, which is admirable if a little redundant. But unlike Hyundai making their logo look a lot like Honda, I do respect Pepsi for trying to carve out their own market identity and product niche. (Rhymes with quiche.)

Changing a brand identity always involves a lot of work, a lot of controversy, and a lot of 'free' publicity. I already like the new logo better than the old one, and I said that last time, too. I'm sure I'll say it again in another five to fifteen years. But the most observant readers may have noticed a red can's reflection in the lead photo. If you can identify the product, then you already have a powerfully succinct critique of the new Pepsi logo.


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