A Logo is More than a Logo – Surge Soda

I could easily of called this “A Brand is More than a Brand.”

Surge Logo

Surge Logo

When working with The Coca-Cola Company yet get a pretty good perspective of how large branding and identity goes, how far wide and reaching it goes. While on ‘Team Surge’ I worked closely with an awesome fellow logo enthusiast and production artist madman named Rick, we went from logo to how it’s going to work on product (various substrates) to advertising in print, TV, the web, to internationally. It’s hard to impress upon people, especially kids going to college taught by professors who have never been in the real world or played in the big leagues, teaching kids a logo is just a “pretty picture,” when in fact, when you play with the big boys, if that was all you thought, you’d last, oh, two weeks maybe tops? About the length of time your “pretty picture design” failed in front of the camera and on aluminum.

In this case, Surge is a soda, sadly a soda you can’t buy anymore. It’s whitepaper was “MDK,” or Mountain Dew Killer, not quite it seems, Coke’s probably wasn’t that it didn’t have good product, it was there were certain brand managers trying to co-opt the myth that is “Gen X,” but chasing that demographic, pandering to it, where Mountain Dew got it, they simply just showed up without talking down or trying to co-opt a lifestyle, they were already part of the lifestyle. Pepsico 1, Coke 0. (not to be confused with Coke Zero).

At this point we had a logo, after being told to slip in Coca-Cola red, how does it look on the surface it’ll be seen the most? A can. Time to fire up 3D software, in this case I used Adobe Dimensions, a bit low-fi, but it gets the job done.

Surge Soda Can

Surge Soda Can

Yep. Looks like soda. Get a sign-off and we’re off to the races. Crank up the international marketing machine, we have a design, we have product, we’re good to go. Print out some hero art (art that is made to look a bit like the finished product on some substrates) and let’s go go go!

Not so fast though. This is a big international company, with rules, I don’t mind rules. At this point the art department has to explain what’s going on here. What spot colors are used and how will it look in, say, one color.

Relating size to logo to design to colors, got it?

Relating size to logo to design to colors, got it?

Mind you, this isn’t exclusive to The Coca-Cola Company, many large international players go through this, only most colleges haven’t a clue. And most colleges would be totally lost with the next one, too many professors have never seen a printing press, all they relate to is an ink jet. Hence I advise any budding graphic designer who wants to actually know how to truly design for the big world to pick a college that has it’s own working press and will let you apprentice on it. No joke, the more you know, the better your skillset, the better your hireability. Think you’re a great “designer” and don’t have time to get your hands dirty? Great, I’ll let you serve me my coffee at Borders Books, because that’s all you’ll be doing if that’s your attitude.

Surge logo broken down into separations (plates), Think about all this next time you're in the soda aisle or looking at ANY packaging.

Surge logo broken down into separations (plates), Think about all this next time you're in the soda aisle or looking at ANY packaging.

Thing is, a logo is in fact not just a “make purdy picture mouse clicky clicky,” no, a logo is something in the big leagues that you have to take into consideration a lot of factors beyond just what it looks like, hence, my comment about cocky kids in high school getting jobs at Starbucks, if you don’t know the inner workings of design, you’re not going to get very far. Here what we did is we broke down what goes on what plate and how, at what sizes, and with what colors, what PMS works best.

Bonus material is that we even have to take into consideration that on a four or six color press we may need to swap a CMYK color for one of these to recreate, say, a flesh tone, or some other image going on a package. We pick our PMS colors carefully. Again, kids reading this thinking “that doesn’t apply to me,” I take mine tall, cream only, thanks.

Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

Now we have the logo, we have the colors for the brand, we can figure out how this will work on, say, a 12 pack, sold at a store near you.

What I’m not showing here (confidential information) is we also would come up with a branding guidelines for every single product and product launch, or product redesign. It would be dozens of pages, usually with these graphics, explaining from product, packaging, in the US and internationally, how to use the logo, what to do, what not to do, how to print it, with what colors, when, etc. Guidelines to make sure in any corner of the world where Surge was either made or sold or marketed it’d be consistent, everywhere. Think about that next time you take a swig of soda.