The Coke side of type
A couple of years ago, Coca-Cola announced its One Brand strategy, a plan to unite all of its products under a single visual identity system anchored by the iconic Coca-Cola Red Disc and classic white script. The move saw the rollout of new can and bottle designs all around the world. Now, Coca-Cola is expanding its design language with the launch of its own custom typeface, TCCC Unity (an acronym of The Coca-Cola Company).
The typeface was designed by Neville Brody’s eponymous design agency, Brody Associates. Brody himself is known for this pioneering work in the 80s and 90s as the designer behind influential magazines The Face and FUSE, which challenged the boundaries between typography and graphic design. He had previously been invited by Coca-Cola to participate in #mashupcoke, to “reimagine the vintage bottle with new imagery, type and iconography using only three colours: Coke red, black and white.” His work clearly stuck with the soft drink giant.
Using the brand’s extensive archive for inspiration, Brody worked alongside the in-house team at Coca-Cola to “piece together a tangible Coco-Cola typographic reference toolbox”, and develop a typeface that would “encapsulate elements from Coca-Cola’s past and its American Modernist heritage”.
Specimen-style graphics posted by Brody Associates to Twitter describe the typeface as possessing some high-brow design choices: “Tear drop counter follows the language of brand and liquid”; “Flowing tail of /l/, dynamic and reminiscent of Coca-Cola script”; “Characters have been designed with a distinct left-to-right reading flow”. Although it’s amusing to read, it’s all just a load of post-rationale bullshit as none of the stated design features are particularly unique to Coca-Cola. I’m sure the company feels very reassured that the “Q [looks] like a glass with a straw”.
Is it right for Coca-Cola? Perhaps. At first glance, it looks as vanilla as Gotham or Avenir, but after seeing a larger block of text set with it, it does exhibit a subtle, playful character, notably influenced by the lowercase a. It doesn’t cross the line of drawing too much attention to itself, and is probably the right choice for a brand which already has some well-known design elements.
The introduction of the typeface sees Coca-Cola join the ranks of companies such as IBM, Apple, YouTube and more – all of which have commissioned custom typefaces. Coca-Cola has gone a step further and introduced an iOS app for those with an interest in design and typography to discover more about the ethos behind TCCC Unity’s design. It contains interviews with the typeface’s designers and details the various styles, weights and specimens.