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Adding Style to Coca-Cola

NEW YORK — He’s done it for Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor, Estée Lauder and Reebok — and now brand image guru Mark Gobe is putting his branding stamp on American icon Coca-Cola.<br><br>The aim is to make the...

NEW YORK — He’s done it for Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor, Estée Lauder and Reebok — and now brand image guru Mark Gobe is putting his branding stamp on American icon Coca-Cola.

The aim is to make the product’s packaging more appealing to teens — many of whom prefer Pepsi — while retaining visual elements long associated with the Coca-Cola label.

“The brand has lost some of its edge to Pepsi and we’re trying to bring more dynamism to its image,” Gobe said Wednesday.

The new design, rolling out globally now through June, updates the Coca-Cola motif by returning to the packaging the ribbon that has sometimes flowed beneath the brand name. That name will continue to appear in Coca-Cola’s traditional white Spencerian script on a red background.

“Like the Nike swoosh, the Coke ribbon is less about the product and more about the experience,” Gobe said. “It’s abstract, so it can make that connection worldwide.”

In contrast, Coca-Cola’s contour bottle image was dropped from packaging, Gobe noted, as its usefulness as a “brand ambassador” was found to be limited: It fails to resonate emotionally with consumers abroad, who associate it with the product rather than the experience.

At the same time, Coke is being narrowly distributed in a Club Can: a taller, slimmer container, with a symbolic image on one face — the ribbon, contour bottle, or C2 — and a discreet, tone-on-tone Coca-Cola logo on the other. It’s sold exclusively in places where teens convene.

“The idea is to see how far people will associate with the brand, absent literal expression,” Gobe said. It’s already created some stir: a Club Can was auctioned on eBay last week for $36, he added.