While there are few companies with a richer design heritage than Coca-Cola, in recent years the company seemed to have lost its design savvy. Five years ago, David Butler joined the company with a
mandate to reverse that trend. The vp for design has learned the most effective way to implement design strategy at a company as large as Coca-Cola is to avoid the word "design" as much as possible.
Instead of generating ideas and then trying to find a place for them, Butler focuses his efforts on identifying basic problems that design can solve. "If I'm at a meeting with manufacturing
people, I'll say: 'How can we make the can feel colder longer?'" he says. "Or, 'How can we make the cup easier to hold?'" In other words, he talks about the benefits of smart design in a language to
which those he's talking to can relate.
Based on several recent brand redesigns -- including the new Coke identity work that won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions in June -- and
innovations such as an aluminum bottle and a new family of coolers, the surreptitious approach seems to be working.
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