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The Power of Design Thinking, Part 1

Coca-Cola understands the power of design thinking to address problems on a global scale. This week in the Eye of the Storm we share two examples of the power of Design Thinking, and a third movement that we at B&H are proud to be a part of.

The best designs need no words, and Coca-Cola has a new limited edition can to prove it.

Source: Designtaxi

The white-swoop-on-red design is so iconic that the “Coca-Cola” label is not necessary. No one would mistake this brand for another. 

So, Coca-Cola is taking a break from its own logo, with a very interesting purpose. The title of the campaign is “Let’s Take An Extra Second”( so we can get to know people, to see them for who they truly are). 

This is brand consistency on another level. An invitation to take a break, to pause for a moment of mindful reflection, has been part of the Coca-Cola mythos since at least 1929.

But it gets more interesting than that. Coca-Cola’s initiative is titled, “Remove Labels This Ramadan”. 

This limited edition no-label can has been released in the Middle East for the month of Ramadan, a time of fasting and reflection, for Muslims. The aim of this campaign is to combat peoples' tendencies to form premature judgments about others, and encourage individuals to get to know one another first.   

The message of the campaign is “Labels are for cans, not for people”. 

Source: Designtaxi

Labels on food and drink offer important information and are the basis of a brand relationship and trust. 

But when people are labeled, the effect is to hide information. Labels reduce multi-dimensional humans with families, children, histories, culture, desires, hopes and dreams to one narrow dimension.  

How many of us could sum ourselves up in a word or two?

And with a look at the media in Europe recently, I would suggest that Coca-Cola run this campaign here too. (See Hate Free)

Video: Coca-Cola has removed its label from its cans in an effort to promote a world without labels and prejudices. 

What is also impressive here is the leadership and courage Coca-Cola is showing in addressing this topic, and that they are doing it via design. In our attention-based economy courage grabs attention. And Coca-Cola is showing courage in the face of uncertainty and the possibility of backlash due to recent history. 

Courage makes the hero. And we all want to be heroes. And true heroes know when courageous action is necessary and when it is not.  This isn’t the first time Coca-Cola has shown leadership recently; in an effort to become more sustainable, they have also increased their use of bio-plastics in most of their bottles by 70% saving hundreds millions of barrels of oil a year (source).

The Point: Coca-Cola is using design thinking and packaging design to address a global problem  prejudice, bias, racism, and hatred  which can, and does, hurt profits (unless you are a weapons maker). They are leading by showing courage, by using design to urge people to think, and to think on different levels, and by effectively marketing their product: this business with a higher purpose, without giving up the purpose of making a profit.  What is your company's higher purpose

The future belongs to companies that are brave and not making decisions based on fear or selfishness. Is your company doing what is necessary to survive the 21st Century? Related Posts:

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We understand that our clients don't have a lot of time. However, being that it is summer, we thought we would offer this for those who are interested.  DESIGN THINKING has a place in strengthening democracy and keeping capitalism viable. Check out this discussion.


"Roger Martin studies the future of democratic capitalism at the Martin Prosperity Institute. Tim Brown is the CEO of IDEO, which designs solutions to systemic challenges in education, health, financial inclusion and government. Together, they are examining new approaches to tackle decades of stagnation in US household income and rising income inequality. What are the structural underpinnings of democratic capitalism? What pragmatic steps might we take to make progress on complex challenges? Drawing from examples in social and business enterprise, this discussion will explore how design might unlock new ways to drive towards massive change." - July 2, 2015