What would you remove if someone asked you to draw the Pepsi logo from memory? Maybe the circle with the brand’s iconic red, white, and blue stripes. Perhaps the word “Pepsi” in this world.
When PepsiCo walked people through this exercise, as they sometimes did, they often put the word “Pepsi” in the circle. But the current logo doesn’t look like that. The brand name is on the side, a little tame next to the iconic globe. So Pepsi made a change.
“We can’t ignore insights like this,” Mauro Porcini, PepsiCo’s chief designer, told CNN. “Instead of rejecting it, we choose to accept it.”
On Tuesday, Pepsi unveiled a new logo and brand, launching in North America this fall and globally next year. It looks a lot like the 90s version that people seem to have stuck with, but with new elements that make it more modern, including a different font and font color and a new border. The change was meant to stay better in people’s minds and draw attention to Pepsi’s sugar-free line, a key part of the company’s growth plans.
‘Bold and confident’
Pepsi has been around for 125 years and has updated its brand from time to time. The current visual identity was introduced back in 2008. However, it has become a bit dated in the years since its release.
The “Pepsi” in the logo is “worlds apart,” said Todd Kaplan, Pepsi’s head of marketing. “It’s a lowercase, italicized, slightly dim blue font … it just doesn’t exude the confidence and energy the brand truly represents.”
Kaplan says Pepsi is a “bold and confident brand” that means “endless indulgence.” Is the current logo, the lowercase “Pepsi,” standing apart from this serene globe? Not too bold, not too confident.
The new logo is more similar, with the bold capital letters “PEPSI” in the center of the circle written on a white line rippling between the red and blue waves.
It’s not uncommon for companies to change their appearance to stay relevant, says Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. But they must be careful not to be too intrusive: significant changes risk confusing or upsetting customers. As an example, he cites the failure of the Tropicana logo. In 2009, Tropicana drastically redesigned its box, which left consumers outraged. Tropicana, which was owned by PepsiCo at the time, changed its logo back within a few months.
For “a brand that has such a long history, there’s always something to look back on,” says Calkins. Tapping into nostalgic images can be “really powerful.” But companies need to keep old brands fresh, he says.
According to Pepsi, the changes made were distinctive enough to get the job done and feature modern elements like Pepsi’s sugar-free line.
Zero’s the hero
Soft drink manufacturers have focused on sugar-free products and brands in recent years due to consumer interest in the pure sugar soda flag, and PepsiCo is no exception.
The Zero “will be at the core of Pepsi’s branding strategy” in the US, PepsiCo (PEP) CEO Ramon Laguarta said while speaking with analysts in February. Earlier this year, Pepsi announced changes to its sugar-free recipe and promoted the product with a Super Bowl ad.
“We believe the sugar-free car segment will continue to proliferate in this country. We see consumers turning away from them,” said Laguarta, noting that the Zero was already a “strategic” product in Europe and elsewhere.
To that end, “sugar-free will be the protagonist of our communications strategy,” Porcini told CNN.
To emphasize the zero line, the new logo uses a black typeface and a black border in reference to Pepsi Zero’s black box and label.
The frame also helps make the logo the centerpiece of the company’s vibrant new campaign, which features the radiating lines of the dynamic logo, synced to upbeat music in the video ad and elsewhere.
The team understands that even small changes can make waves with users and are approaching updates with care.
“This has been an iterative process for the last few years,” said Kaplan. “We think it’s a great way to keep [Pepsi] recognizable … but also project into the future.”