How a Steve Jobs Tribute resulted in the Latest Coke Design
If you are a typical Facebook or Twitter addict (like most of us!), you couldn’t have missed this visual tribute to Steve Jobs that was shared by thousands of people on every social network and had a huge viral effect.
What many people don’t know is that this design was created by a 20 year old design student from Hong Kong, Jonathan Mak. Mak had first posted this image on his blog when Steve stepped down as CEO of Apple. He reposted it after Steve’s death and suddenly the image started appearing everywhere and Mak’s Tumblr blog got inundated with comments and congratulations. And that was just the beginning.
According to today’s report by Ad Age, The Steve Jobs meme caught the attention of the Chief Creative Officer of Ogilvy China, Graham Fink, who tracked down Mak and met him personally, going through his portfolio and admiring his “beautifully simple” designs.
In February, Fink offered Mak an assignment that would be a dream for any communication design student: to work on one of the world’s oldest and most recognized brands, Coke. His brief was to visually represent “sharing a coke”.
The result of this assignment was a design that premiered in Bus shelters and elevators in Shanghai, China a week ago.
The design is part of Coke’s Global “Open Happiness” campaign and features a pun on the iconic white ribbon of Coke: two hands in the shape of the ribbon passing a bottle of Coke (thereby “sharing happiness”). In style, the design is similar to the redesigned Apple logo, which was also a pun on the original Apple logo and is simple, yet powerful in its communication. What makes this design unique is adding a different spin to an iconic image and conveying the message of togetherness and happiness brilliantly without having to use a single word.
Says Mak, “I enjoy making visual puns. I don’t want to say it’s my style, but I do enjoy combining elements together to create a joke almost. It captures people’s attention. These kinds of images are quite appropriate to advertising. It takes a second to get, and then there’s an ‘aha’ moment.”
Senior Executives at Coke are impressed with Mak’s work, calling the design, “intriguing and unusual,” though it is not confirmed yet if it will be used outside China. But don’t be surprised if in the coming months you get to see a different version of the Coke ribbon.
There are two lessons to be learnt here. First, it is now possible, more than ever before, to affect and reach out to a huge chunk of digitally connected audience with great work. Lack of audience is no more an excuse to not do great work. Second, inspiring and fresh ideas can come from anywhere. Even from a 20 year old student.