Pepsi is an iconic American soda brand that has been around for over a century. The original Pepsi product was created in 1893 by Caleb Bradham for his drug store in North Carolina. The concoction was called "Brad's Drink," made with water, sugar, caramel, nutmeg, lemon oil, and cola nuts. In 1898, Bradham renamed the drink "Pepsi-Cola," taking inspiration from the word "dyspepsia" and the digestive enzyme "pepsin."
It took nearly a century for Pepsi and Coca-Cola to engage in real competition. Today, Pepsi is valued at over $11 billion, and in 2020, PepsiCo generated over $70 billion in net revenue. Pepsi's product portfolio now includes 23 brands, each generating over $1 billion in annual sales. These products, including snacks, beverages, and water, are sold in more than 200 countries.
The Evolution of the Pepsi Logo
Starting from its inception in 1898, the first Pepsi-Cola logo had a unique and unusual font that was popular during that era. As the beverage was marketed as a digestive aid, the tagline "Exhilarating, Invigorating, Aids Digestion" reflected its purpose. However, as time passed, the logo underwent changes, with the letters becoming more evenly spaced and the font softening.
By 1940, the logo had evolved into a sleek and minimalistic banner with clean-cut letters that had an Art Deco-inspired feel. The wave element, which gave the impression of motion and energy, was present in all iterations of the logo throughout the brand's history. Notably, the original colors of red, white, and blue remained consistent, even as the fonts and imagery evolved over time.
In 1962, Pepsi dropped the "Cola" from its name, along with the script font elements, to establish brand differentiation. The brand developed a completely new look that maintained the feeling of movement and energy with the wavy lines. The new design was aimed at the youth of the 1960s, replacing the old drug-store-label look with a bold stamp of approval.
Then in 1965, Pepsi-Cola combined with Frito Lay Inc. to form the company PepsiCo Inc., which is how it remains today.
In 1975, Pepsi introduced the "Pepsi Challenge," which was aimed at taking a share of Coca-Cola's audience. To do this, small booths were set up throughout malls all over America, where young hires wearing a bright Pepsi Challenge t-shirt would ask anyone passing by to do a blind taste test. According to Pepsi, most people preferred Pepsi over Coca-Cola. The popular stunt certainly gave Pepsi what it wanted with a bigger share of the market.
In response, Coca-Cola tried to change their recipe in an attempt to keep up with the times. However, people did not like the new taste. This initially created a setback for Coca-Cola, but it didn’t allow Pepsi to fully take the #1 spot in the market. Instead, it reaffirmed people’s desire for Coca-Cola and gave Coca-Cola the spotlight on the national stage.
Despite this setback, Pepsi continued to market itself as the drink of the upcoming generation and promoted itself as the brand of modern stars of the day like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, and Shakira, which helped to define Pepsi's place as a more contemporary brand.
In 1998, Pepsi underwent a significant redesign, introducing a 3D logo that dominated with the brand's signature blue color. The new logo replaced the red banner with a solid cobalt backdrop and maintained the rounded slab serif font with a sci-fi look.
In 2005, the logo was updated further with a horizontal gradient background and a serif font, which was used for the first time in almost a century. A blue line was added to make the logo stand out, and light gray shading within the letters created a 3D effect.
The 2006 logo change added mouth-watering droplets covering the wavy globe to illustrate the drink, adding a level of complexity to the design that was trendy in the early 2000s.
In 2014, the logo underwent a minor tweak, removing the outline around the globe, which remains the same today. The overall branding is easy to read and ideal for modern platforms and packaging. Although the skinny, lowercase sans-serif font may be disconcerting to those familiar with the brand's historical look, it takes on a fresher and more relevant vibe for younger generations, which is in line with Pepsi's longstanding commitment to appealing to youth culture.
“We designed this new brand identity to be unapologetically current and undeniably Pepsi. The Pepsi wordmark and globe blend together to take over every touchpoint, from packaging to equipment to fashion,” Mauro Porcini, SVP & chief design officer of PepsiCo, posted on LinkedIn. “Black – that same black in our Pepsi Zero Sugar identity – paints the wordmark, outlines the globe, and, blending into blue, radiates into the world with a new, ownable pulse. The Pepsi pulse. The pulse that connects the digital and physical dimensions of Pepsi. Because you can’t design a brand today without thinking of how it will come to life in the virtual world made of bits and bytes.”
The new logo design incorporates the brand's name into the iconic red, white, and blue globe, which was first introduced in 1987 and then scrapped in 1997. The updated design features a bigger Pepsi wordmark that sits inside the sphere, creating a more natural and cohesive look.
In addition to the logo, the color palette and typography have also been updated. The soft and rounded lowercase "pepsi" has been replaced with a more striking all-caps wordmark that stands in contrast with a rounder typography. The new color palette includes a vibrant electric blue and black, adding a dynamic and energetic sheen to the brand.
Pepsi is gearing up for the future with a new visual identity system that will help the brand stay relevant and engaging for the next generation of consumers. The brand's unapologetic and enjoyable qualities will be represented across all physical and digital touchpoints with this new branding.
The launch of Pepsi's new identity includes a presentation video that highlights the dynamism and wavy effect of the red and blue stripes in the logo. The new look is more vibrant and draws inspiration from urban culture and graffiti.
"I believe that Pepsi's decision to update its logo with a modern twist is a smart move to tap into a sense of nostalgia while still staying relevant to younger consumers. The new branding is more vibrant and dynamic, with echoes of urban culture and graffiti, which I think will appeal to the younger generation. At the same time, the incorporation of the brand's name into the red, white, and blue globe harks back to the iconic logo from the 1960s, which has become a symbol of nostalgia and Americana. Overall, I think Pepsi's new visual identity system strikes a balance between honoring the brand's heritage and embracing the future." - Nataly Yeromenko, creative director