The Origins of Coca-Cola Bottle Design

The Origins of Coca-Cola Bottle Design

The best way to create an instant brand is to make your packaging, and product standout. In a competitive market, your brand has to feel, look, and be extremely unique that it can’t be imitated.

In 1894, a Mississipi shop owner by the name of Joseph A. Biedenharn began bottling Coca-Cola after he began noticing it’s sales increase. He sold the drink to his customers in a common unexceptional glass bottle called a “Hutchinson.” 

Two decades later, the Coca-Cola company began noticing that their straight lined bottle was becoming confused with copycat brands.

In 1915, the Coca-Cola company launched a competition among it’s suppliers. They asked them to design a new bottle for their drink. The requirements from Coke were they wanted the bottle to distinguish Coke from all other bottles.

They told the suppliers to design a “bottle which a person could recognize even if they felt it in the dark, and so shaped, that even when broken, a person could tell at a glance what it was a coke bottle.”

Earl R. Dean was a bottle designer and supervisor at the Roots Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana. As he was brainstorming design ideas for the bottle, he got inspired to base the design on the Kola nut, a key ingredient of Coke soda. Though he wasn’t able to find any info on the nut, he was inspired by a gourd-shaped picture of a cocoa pod in the Encyclopedia.

Dean sketched out the pod into a bottle and he came up with this: 

The bottle was approved by his boss the next morning.

Dean proceeded to create a bottle mold and produced a small number of bottles with the machinery in their office. Dean secured a patent for the bottle in 1915. 


During the 1916 bottler’s convention, Dean’s contour bottle was chosen by the Coca-Cola company over all the other design entries that were submitted. That same year, the Coca-Cola company put the design into the market and it became the standard Coca-Cola bottle ever since.

Today, the contour bottle is one of the most recognized bottles on earth. Even in the dark, you can feel the groves of the bottle and you will know it’s a coke bottle. 

Takeaway: Never ever underestimate the power of design. Design when done right can create a timeless brand. You can spot a MacBook from a mile away or if you saw the corner of the McDonalds logo, you would know what that brand was. Design in logos, packaging, and product leave an impression on your customers. Take the time and do it right. Your legacy depends on it.


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