The Cola Wars: Pepsi & Coke duke it out with new design tactics


The New Pepsi vs. The New Coke

Always vying for top spot in your fridge, cooler or school vending machine, your two neighbourhood soft drink giants are at it again. Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola, whose similar elixirs elicit remarkable loyalty, have long been competing on the grounds of style and reputation. This time, the battle of the brands is moving onto the familiar turf of graphic design.

In the blue corner, Pepsi seems to have been doing a little internet research into what “the kids” are up to these days. Well, the kids are all into something called “user generated content.” On the web, this means that users make movies, pictures and music, and bammo! — instant content. In a soft-drink factory, this is a little more difficult. Since Pepsi can’t exactly trust users to make the drinks, they’ve instead asked their drinkers to do the design.

For a limited time, Pepsi partisans could visit to submit their own designs for the 355 ml pop canister. The submissions have now been narrowed to the top five cans, which are on display for voting on the website. (If you can wade through the attitude-heavy “Be Cool. Use short sentences.” text stylings of, you can see a bevy of other can contenders that didn’t make the top five.)

In the red corner, Coke is taking the polar opposite approach, and has decided to get back to basics. Gone are the swooshes, bubbles, splashes, water drops and gradients from the backgrounds of their cans. In its place, beverage buyers will be seeing red. Just red. Starting in Japan and slowly moving across the Pacific to North America, the new cans are an exercise in simplicity, letting the classic vertical white Coca-Cola script stand on its own atop a blank red background.

So which beverage brewer wins this round? In the spirit of this “user generated content” idea, we’ll let you decide. Leave your comment below to let us know which design approach earns your approval.

  • Kevin

    Pepsi’s designs remind me of their “cool cans” in the 90s, but much blander. They must have let a committee weed out all the interesting ones – there certainly won’t be any neon SEX this time around.

    A drop shadow behind script seems especially dumb so I’m glad they got rid of that. But I would have left out the slogan and stuck with the more pronounced swoosh.