When his team was challenged with giving Diet Coke a modern design makeover, Coca-Cola Design VP James Sommerville tapped a designer who matched the profile of the brand’s consumer audience to spearhead the project.

“We wanted to make sure the creative lead from our side was a rising talent but also part of the core Diet Coke demographic – someone who would not only bring to the table creative thinking and strategic direction, but also a passionate Diet Coke fan who would be drinking the product for years to come and who embodies what the brand stands for,” Sommerville said.

Elyse Larouere, 26, has loved Diet Coke as long as she can remember. “I grew up with it in the fridge at home and drank it all the time with my mom and my aunts,” she recalls. “But just as my mom’s style has changed over the years, so too should her favorite brand.”

Four new flavors – Ginger Lime, Feisty Cherry, Zesty Blood Orange and Twisted Mango – will complement the great taste of Diet Coke, adding variety to the portfolio with new flavors that satisfy adventurous fans’ thirst for bold, dynamic tastes and experiences. These bold offerings – available in sleek cans starting this month – needed an equally bold visual identity.

And that meant turning to fresh thinking. “The opportunity to do something so big early on in my career is amazing,” said Larouere. “I’m lucky to work on a team with leadership that is willing to listen to the voices of a younger generation and to give us a chance to lead. A lot of younger people put in a ton of work on the project and, in some ways, it’s the first sign of proof that the brand is growing up and changing with the times.”

'The opportunity to do something so big early on in my career is amazing. I’m lucky to work on a team with leadership that is willing to listen to the voices of a younger generation and to give us a chance to lead. A lot of younger people put in a ton of work on the project and, in some ways, it’s the first sign of proof that the brand is growing up and changing with the times.' – Elyse Larouere

Coca-Cola Design kicked off the brand revamp two years ago, before the new flavor lineup had been set, starting with the Diet Coke known and loved by millions. “We knew we needed to capture a sense of adventure and bring vibrancy and boldness back to the brand,” said Larouere, who outside of her job at Coke runs SHiFT, an immersive design camp for college-age students representing a cross-section of disciplines and backgrounds.

The team collaborated with UK-based design studio Kenyon Weston to bring the new identity to life. The two-person shop brought to the table an “unrefined and untainted” perspective, Sommerville said, while Larouere provided guidance on the brand’s heritage and core DNA.

“The marriage of the two, in theory, works well,” Sommerville explained. “If a design project is too internally driven, we can end up talking to ourselves. And if we rely too much on external partners, things can go off the rails quickly. There is beauty in both knowledge and naiveté.”

Larouere, who led design for 2016’s “Share a Coke and a Song” campaign, said her role is to “set a visual identity standard and system for how our brands appear across the many touchpoints people see and interact with” – from retail and experiential, to digital and out-of-home media. “Through design, we help communicate the feeling we want people to have – and the memories we want them to build – when seeing and enjoying our products,” she added.

Anchored by the brand’s iconic silver color, the new Diet Coke look-and-feel has a simplified color pallet focused on silver and red with accents of bold colors to represent the new flavors. And a slightly refined typography simultaneously preserves Diet Coke’s heritage, yet presents it in a more progressive manner. “We simply gave our logo a more modern haircut,” Larouere said.

The refreshed identity also features the “High Line” – a vertical red band that flows through Diet Coke’s packaging and into all static and 3D communications, from outdoor advertising to social media. The “High Line” aspires to be for Diet Coke what the iconic red disc is to Coca-Cola. “This is a visual asset that can mean different things to different people,” Larouere said. “It’s the graphic equivalent of Diet Coke’s confident, self-driven attitude.”

Diet Coke Design

She’s confident the public will share her passion for Diet Coke’s new path. “I hope new fans will see the brand in a fresh new way and give it a try,” she concluded. “And I hope existing fans will see that our style is changing, just like theirs, but that we’re staying true to who we are.

“My mom loves it… and I’m fairly positive it’s not just because she’s my mom.”