Coca-Cola relies on Adobe to create digital designs for a physical world


From the curves of its iconic glass bottles to the plunging “C” across its red and white logo, Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. While the brand has evolved, many fundamentals date back to 1886, when Dr. John Pemberton served the world’s first Coca-Cola at the Jacobs Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia.

“When you take a close look at Coca-Cola, you can see that design has been part of our history from the start,” said Rapha Abreu, global vice president of design at The Coca-Cola Company. “From finding the perfect balance of water, syrup and carbonation to our careful approach to bottle design, there were a lot of intentions around how the product was made and designed. ”

Fast forward 135 years and the world has changed dramatically. Today, The Coca-Cola Company is one of the world’s largest beverage companies, selling hundreds of brands to consumers in more than 200 countries. Jacob’s Pharmacy is long gone, but a few miles away is the world headquarters of The Coca-Cola Company – a testament that some things still stay the same.

“The current global design team is one of many amazing design teams,” Abreu said. “We are the custodians of a 135 year old brand. Our goal is to preserve the spirit of creativity and design that has endured, while laying the foundation for creative innovation for 135 years. I will be happy if I can simply contribute a brick to the history of our brand. ”

Design a physical product in a digital world

From Fanta and yogurt in Japan to cumin soda in India, Coca-Cola brands tap into local tastes to influence everything from product development and marketing to design. Abreu said the global reach of the Coca-Cola company is what keeps the business fresh.

“Big global companies usually move very slowly, but we use the fact that Coca-Cola is everywhere to our advantage,” he said. “We have people all over the world who understand local consumers and inspire us to develop the brand in new and creative ways. I love the sense of diversity and inspiration; this is fundamental to creating better designs. ”

Global and local design teams use Adobe Creative Cloud apps to create all designs for each Coca-Cola brand. Designers handle all aspects of branding, from logos, websites and billboards to bottles, labels and packaging. When the global teams all work in Adobe Creative Cloud, they can easily share files and collaborate on design ideas to support the company’s strong global brand.

“It’s a digital world, but Coca-Cola will always be a very physical product,” Abreu said. “A lot of our design involves things that people won’t just see, but grab, smell, open and taste. That’s why 3D design is so important to us. We can create something that you can do. can grab for a closer look. It brings the practical element of design into a digital world. ”

When exploring a new or updated brand design, the global design team has traditionally relied on a very artisanal process. They would print digital designs so they could wrap labels around an aluminum can or hire an agency to create physical mockups. In recent years, the team has turned to digital mockups to create 3D renderings to better explore designs, share ideas, and solicit feedback from business units operating around the world.

But for the launch of one of the company’s newest brands, the global design team took a completely different approach, called virtual photography: in Adobe Substance 3D Stager.

adobe max coca-cola case study


Use 3D for virtual sprints with a global team

Topo Chico is a crunchy sparkling mineral water with a strong cult following. Bottled near Cerro del Topo Chico, a mountain in Monterrey, Mexico, Topo Chico’s unique blend of natural minerals and carbonation has made this drink a refreshing favorite for generations. The Coca-Cola Company has decided to build on this brand by launching a new range of alcoholic seltzer water with tangy and tropical flavors.

Topo Chico Hard Seltzer is a new venture for the Coca-Cola Company, as it is the company’s first alcoholic beverage to be marketed in the United States. But Abreu saw this jump as an exciting opportunity for the global design team. “With smaller, newer brands we have more freedom to experiment with design,” says Abreu. “We wanted to be nimble and use tools to bring design concepts to life in a fast and compelling way. Adobe Substance 3D Stager has been a big part of our success.

After receiving the creative brief, the global design team immediately got to work developing a brand identity for Topo Chico Hard Seltzer.

“Our goal was to do everything in-house, using all of our design resources and global talents,” said Benny Lee, global director of experiential design for The Coca-Cola Company. “We spent a few days working on design sprints, coming up with a dozen different concepts.”

The designers worked with Adobe Illustrator to create ideas for the logo and can design. But rather than printing the designs or relying on an agency for the mockups, the designers imported the Illustrator file directly into Adobe Substance 3D Stager and applied it to a virtual box.

“3D is a crucial part of how we explore the brand in a digital workflow,” says Lee. “Adobe Substance 3D Stager removes the barrier of entry to 3D design by allowing us to skip physical mockups and review feedback faster. We were able to integrate digital design completely in-house. All of our directors and designers have quickly learned how to combine 3D models and realistic lighting to create high fidelity rendering. ”

Once the concept materialized in Substance 3D Stager, designers could quickly share their ideas, get instant feedback, and start iterating on designs. 3D stages have been traveled around the world, taking advantage of designers working in different time zones for 24-hour collaboration and even faster sprints. Everything from assets, lighting and camera angles has been preserved for each step, allowing for a smoother transfer.

Not all designers have formal 3D training, nor do they have the time to model elements to fill their scene. Adobe Stock filled the gap to fully realize designers’ visions, providing access to a diverse library of high-quality photographic assets to complement product shots with just a few clicks. Smart Search in Adobe Stock powered by Adobe Sensei has helped designers quickly narrow searches to find the right assets.

“With a huge library of high-fidelity 3D models, Adobe Stock helped us find the resources we needed to explore branding and set up realistic scenes within hours,” said Lee.

During the first meeting with the global design team, less than a week after the delivery of the creative brief, brand heads and managers were surprised to learn that the designers had twelve different design concepts ready to go. presented. Every design has been fully developed, including brand design, target characters, and possible sponsorships.

“In just a few days of using Adobe Substance 3D Stager, we accomplished a job that could have taken us weeks without it,” said Lee. “You can’t be afraid to fail in the design. By working with Substance 3D Stager, we could fail quickly, which led to more experimentation, iterations, and ultimately better designs. ”

Professional and photorealistic results from a desktop computer

The launch of Topo Chico Hard Seltzer set a precedent for a new way of working digitally for the Coca-Cola Company. The Global Design Team has proven that an in-house team can achieve high-quality results much faster at a significantly lower cost.

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Even beyond the initial design sprint, Substance 3D Stager revolutionizes the photography process. The 3D renderings were so realistic and artistic that the results were comparable to traditional photo shoots. Since one-third of a traditional marketing budget is typically spent on photography, switching to Substance 3D Stager saves hundreds of thousands of dollars per campaign. In fact, Coca-Cola estimates that the team has already saved over $ 200,000 in photography costs.

“I couldn’t believe when we launched Topo Chico Hard Seltzer and our renders were in the headlines,” Lee said. “It really changes the way we work on launches and allows us to focus on quick creative iterations so that we can focus on the perfect designs for the products.”

“The Adobe Substance 3D collection is just the latest example of how Adobe is innovating,” Abreu added. “By making 3D design more accessible, Adobe is opening up new digital playgrounds where we can explore designs for new products and markets. Working with Adobe applications supports our goal of designing for today’s world, but also of developing designs that will stay with us for decades to come. ”

Learn more about Adobe Creative Cloud.

This article was created by Adobe with Insider Studios.

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