It’s almost impossible to think about soft drinks without thinking about Coca-Cola. The brand has managed to stay on top for nearly 130 years, and a lot of the success may be based on its contour bottle design.

Coca-Cola was born in a drug store in 1886. It isn’t the oldest soft drink. Although it is still currently debated which soda company is the oldest, Coca-Cola was invented after both Dr. Pepper and Vernors Ginger Ale. It is believed, however, according to NBC News, Coca-Cola still holds the top spot in global sales. The brand also said “Coca-Cola” is the second most well-known word globally, after the word “okay.” What does Coke have that other brands don’t? It’s in the bottle.

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Glass bottles reigned in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The standard soft drink bottle is depicted above, yet Coca-Cola executives thought the brand could gain an edge if the bottle was distinct from their competition. In 1915, Coca-Cola commissioned an artist to create a unique bottle that would do just that. That year, Alexander Samuelson designed the bottle and the Root Glass Company of Terre Haute, Indiana patented it.

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According to Coca-Cola’s timeline, Samuelson was commissioned to make the most easily distinguishable bottle in the world. The design “called for a bottle that could be recognized when broken on the ground or by touch in the dark.” Just a year after the new bottle was introduced, Coca-Cola began bottling in Guam, quickly followed by operations in Europe (during World War I of course).

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By 1950, Coca-Cola became the first soda to be featured by Time Magazine, solidifying the bottle as an international symbol of what the company calls “Happiness.” By 1977, the Coke bottle was registered as a trademark and in a study, more than 99% of Americans were able to identify the beverage by bottle alone. As the company continues to defend its international presence, it kept its bottle shape, whether glass, plastic or aluminum.

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There is no denying Coca-Cola has employed some of the most brilliant branding specialists in the world from the beginning. From supplying the soft drink to soldiers during World Wars I & II and supporting global movements, such as sustainability, Coca-Cola has lead the way in how effective branding can keep you alive and well throughout time. We can learn a lot from Coke in that regard. Its success, however, always comes back to the shape of its bottle. Never underestimate the power of something small. Sometimes the smallest things have the biggest impacts. Let us raise our glasses and congratulate Coca-Cola on 129 years of success. Cheers to 129 more.

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Comments

  1. alexhawker Reply

    Woo, Guam (I lived there for ten years)!

    I was not expecting to see it mentioned in an article about Coca-Cola…

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