A Valuable Marketing Lesson From 1915

7th Nov 2013

Wednesday’s Google Doodle celebrated Raymond Loewy, called the ‘Father of Industrial Design’ by The Independent.   http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/raymond-loewy-google-doodle-celebrates-120th-birthday-of-the-father-of-industrial-design-8921626.html

This is what they had to say –

Google has marked the 120th birth anniversary of industrial designer Raymond Loewy. He is widely considered to have revolutionized the industry creating product designs for everything from refrigerators to cars, cigarette packets and spacecraft. He also designed logos for Exxon and Shell as well as the former BP logos. He was also responsible for the design of the Coca-Cola vending machines and the iconic Greyhound Scenicruiser bus 

Loewy was responsible for the design of the famous Coca Cola ‘hobble skirt bottle’ which was patented in November 1915.



This iconic vessel and kernel of the Coca Cola brand , is interesting to us in the modern era, mostly because of it’s unusually decorous style of design. But at it’s inception it had a much more practical purpose.

Coke’s success in the 20th century was driven by it’s effective distribution strategy. Famously defined by Robert Winship Woodruff , President of Coca Cola, as putting the brand ‘within an arm’s reach of desire’ (http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/about-us/history-of-coca-cola-1941-1959.html )

But earlier, around 1915, the individual point of sale experience was key and involved plunging one’s hand into a chest of ice and feeling for the product, amongst a host of competitive bottles. Effectively Coke wanted their drink to be identified by touch alone – a shape ( and consequent brand identity) that was uniquely theirs and all the more powerful working as it did, at this elementary but highly engaging sensory level.

The concept of appealing aesthetic design is very apparent in the digital age of course , a good example being Jonathan Ive’s design work with Apple http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Ive .But there is a broader lesson that can be drawn from 1915 ; relating to the wider world of brands and brand communications.

The message is that whatever we produce, whatever we sell and however we seek to communicate – we need to do it in a decisively distinct and unique fashion.
Nick Hammond

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