The evolution of the Pepsi brand

By E. te Grotenhuis

Drinking cola in my family was as child something special. As the weekend began we were allowed to drink one glass of cola per night. This gave the drink something special. (The real reason probably was that there was too much sugar in the beverage and we as children would become to hyper). In our mind the drink was something “special”, brands didn’t need to do anything to achieve this in our mind. However, if you look at the changes brands go through, they aim to stay in touch with the customers. Especially Pepsi made some big changes in their branding.

I started to recognize Pepsi as a brand around the age of six years (1999). It already used the circle/baseball form it stills uses today. The reason why Pepsi used these colours and forms wasn’t clear for me, but when you look into the evolution of the brand you notice that there are deeper thoughts behind.

What many people don’t know is that the Pepsi brand first used their inventors name to gain market share. It was called Brad’s Drink in 1893 and the same logo was used till 1898. The logo looked rather plane and to compete with the already well-known Coca-Cola brand a change had to be made. That is why the logo changed colours and design and the brand started to use the name Pepsi-Cola. The name Pepsi was used because the inventor Bradham believed that it was a “healthy” drink. Pepsi has its roots in the word; dyspepsia, what means indigestion. What you maybe notice of the first logo is that it looks similar to the Coca-Cola logo. The logo looked really swirly and it was the first attempt to let people connect with the brand.

In 1906 Pepsi underwent a design change, because the company wanted to incorporate more text. Especially the slogan got displayed as well. To do so the logo became more spherical shaped, which became a great success. In 1940 Pepsi went back to the rectangular shape and tried to make the logo more clean. The logo got displayed in a rectangular box with a white background. This way of using colours gave the logo its distinctness. The use of colours as also used to show support to the Americas efforts in WWII.

pepsi-1 pepsi-2

First logo’s of Pepsi

Around the year 1950 Pepsi started to use more colours and changed the design as well. Pepsi started around this decade the ‘Pepsi Generation Campaign. Red, blue and white are the colours of the American-flag, the company probably used these colours to incorporate a patriotic feeling. Furthermore the word ‘Cola’ was dropped. In my opinion shortening the brand name made the logo more strong.

As in the 1970 a lot of technological inventions arise, society started to change. People embraced new technologies and were keen to use a modern approach. That is why Pepsi decided to minimize the logo as well. It used the new understanding of society to make the logo more neat and clean. The bottle cap also disappeared and became a white circle. In 1991 Pepsi took the word out the circle, to try something new. The reason behind it was that the company believed that the new design made it more peppier and younger than its rival Coca-Cola.

The bottle cap of Pepsi

In 1998 Pepsi started their ‘Project Blue’ Campaign. Instead of a white background it became blue. At this point as well the swirls (red white, and blue ones) got noticed as the Pepsi Globe. The changes they made was to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Pepsi. Strategically it was a good choice to form the globe, because the form, without the text, got used in several displaying techniques.

Project Blue Campaign and Advertisements


Project Blue Campaign and Advertisements 
The current logo still use its traditional colours, shape and font style. The white swirl in the middle of the globe has changed shape. Reason was to give the logo a smiling face, inspired by the smile of the Mona Lisa. This is a way of using emotions to make a brand more appealing. However, there are more reasons what makes the new design more magical. The designer, Peter Arnell, also tried to incorporate the earth’s magnetic field, Pythagoras geodynamics, the theory of relativity, and the golden ratio. Al this was created with a large budget of 1 million dollars.
Current Logo of Pepsi
To conclude this blog, Pepsi changed their logo a lot. They always aimed to stay connected with their customers and wanted to try to stay ahead of Coca-Cola. In my opinion they did a great job! Especially the newest logo looks like a market-winner!

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