From today, February 15th, until Tuesday 19th 2019, the world’s style elite will have their eyes fixed on the nation’s capital. London Fashion Week is here, bringing together the designers, brands and thinkers that shape the apparel industry, so there’s no better time for us to look back another style icon: the world-famous Coca-Cola logo…

Much like the models on London Fashion Week’s runways, our logo has always been a head turner, even when it was first designed in 1886 by founder Dr. John Pemberton’s bookkeeper and partner, Frank Robinson.

Frank also devised the name of the drink – asserting that “two Cs would look well in advertising” – and carefully crafted the now distinctive cursive and lean of our Spenserian-script, recognisable in any language and country across the world.

But the real secret to our logo’s enduring popularity? It’s all about that red...

The iconic Coca-Cola red

Coca-Cola Red: the DNA of our design

There’s no Pantone colour for Coca-Cola Red. You can’t buy Coke Red paint or find out our formula to make it, but when you see it, you know it.

So how did red become so synonymous with Coca-Cola?

Since inception, Coca-Cola and the colour red have remained an iconic pairing recognised anywhere in the world. Logo designer Frank Robinson liked the contrast of red and white, and would write “Coca-Cola Delicious and Refreshing” with red lettering over a white oil cloth banner on the company’s earliest signage – outside Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.

“You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good.”
— Andy Warhol, 1975

But our true tie to the colour red started in the mid-1890s, when our syrup was transported across the United States in barrels.

At the time, alcohol faced heavy taxes in the US, so our founders began painting their barrels red to allow customs officials to tell them apart from those containing alcohol at a glance. It was yet to be official, but that was when red became truly synonymous with the brand.

Pretty soon, red started to appear on the urns which were provided to soda fountain operators, sampling coupons and signage which began popping up across the country.

Then, in 1928 – with the same kind of care taken when a country designs its flag – early company CEO Robert Woodruff made Coca-Cola Red official when he standardised the along with many other aspects of the business, transforming it into what it is today.

While our original colour palette included green, yellow and red, the decision to make red our official colour cemented it as a badge of recognition, globally.

“There is no Pantone colour for Coca-Cola Red. You can’t buy Coke Red paint or find out our formula to make it – but when you see it, you know it.”

The introduction of the now-ubiquitous Coca-Cola Red disc in 1948 only helped further solidify our connection with red.

People would see the red disc signage on a storefront, at drive-ins and diners, standing as a promise of refreshment. Then, into the ‘50s and ‘60s, red began to appear on the newest packaging innovation – steel cans.

In 1969, we unveiled the look of the ‘70s. A white wave or ‘dynamic ribbon device’ sat within the ‘Arden Square’ logo, with our famous script set amongst an impactful red backdrop. 

Coca-Cola: Style icon

By the beginning of the 20th century, Coca-Cola had grown a legion of loyal drinkers. The iconicity of the Coca-Cola trademark was adorned onto clocks and promotional materials to signal wherever our unique brand of refreshment was available.

Now though, more than a century later, the Coca-Cola Trademark can be found on much more than just our drinks and signage; you’ll find it on thousands of products, in categories of all types across the world.

Our licensing team’s mission is to connect fans everywhere with Coca-Cola’s internationally-loved iconography by carefully selecting partners, designing style guides, supporting product design and ensuring a quality product experience with style-seekers everywhere.  

The iconic Coca-Cola glass bottle

And, in the style of London Fashion Week, our iconic logo has inspired some of the world’s most celebrated designers to create show-stopping pieces.

Renowned international brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana have all sent Coca-Cola licensed collections down the runways of international fashion weeks, but our partnerships don’t start and stop on the catwalk.

Last year, over 65% of all Coca-Cola licensed product was apparel – representing everything from haute couture to loungewear.  That’s thanks in part to Coca-Cola collaborations with a host of top designers and brands, including shoe designer Sophia Webster, KITH, Desigual, Abercrombie & Fitch, PINKO, Pull & Bear, Primark & Urban Outfitters.

For his Spring 2018 collection, meanwhile, Marc Jacobs unveiled 1980s-inspired graphic sweatshirts featuring Sprite, Fanta and Mello Yello branding – which became a must-have item for the international style set at Coachella this year.

Simply put? The Coca-Cola logo is a timeless style icon.

So, while London Fashion Week looks to a bevy of bold new looks to make its mark, we’re happy proving that a classic design can be just as impactful in 2019 as it was in 1886.

We’re still turning heads left, right and centre… Find out more about Coca-Cola and fashion.