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Primary Color: Why Sprite Has Sported Green Since 1961

By:  Jay Moye Mar 15, 2013

Sprite’s chances of getting pinched on St. Patrick’s Day are slim to none, considering the popular lemon-lime soft drink has been wearing green for more than 50 years.

Similar to the connections Coca-Cola and Fanta have to red and orange, respectively, Sprite has “owned” green since its 1961 debut. Green has served as Sprite’s primary color in its advertising, packaging, merchandising and more. 

“Green is classic and modern, and naturally crisp and clean. It’s never aggressive or boring, and always cool and refreshing… just like Sprite,” explains Nicole Riekki, Sprite’s global design director.

In fact, its status among the world’s most recognized brands can largely be attributed to its signature green bottle. The bottle’s defining shape and signature “dimples” make it one of the most unique and eye-catching packages in the market. By continuing to showcase green on everything from in-store merchandising, to vending machines, to packaging and advertising, Sprite continues to build what design gurus call brand equity and surprise and delight fans around the world.

Color of the Year

Green is also hot. The Pantone Color Institute selected green (Emerald 17-5641) as the color of the year for 2013. “The most abundant hue in nature, the human eye sees more green than any other color in the spectrum,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute.

Back in the ‘60s, designers and engineers at The Coca-Cola Company delved into volumes of research before landing on the design standards for Sprite. After taking into consideration Sprite’s package specs, brand image and target consumer, Coke’s art department created green-centric labels, carton designs and advertising for the brand. Dozens of designs were considered for the green Sprite bottle, which was carefully designed with the same quality specifications applied to the iconic Coca-Cola contour bottle.

Jumping Off the Shelves

In 1967, as Sprite continued to gain momentum in the market and was available to 85 percent of the U.S. population – as well as consumers in 38 other countries – the brand team hired a New York design firm to create new carton and label designs for a packaging re-launch. Their goal? To communicate the freshness of Sprite and help the brand stand out on the shelf with an attention-grabbing look.

The new packaging hit the market the following year. The Coca-Cola Bottler magazine described it as “a study in contrasting shades of green,” and predicted the designs would “lift Sprite right out of the crowd like never before.”