We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again—we love packaging. And not just the finished product, either—we love the brainstorming, the process, the revisions and experimentations along the way. There’s nothing quite like seeing a brand build its way to truly unique and inspiring packaging. We like to call that iconic packaging, and we’d like to share one of our favourites with you.

1899 – The Original Bottle

coca-cola iconic packaging

The bottling of Coca-Cola begins in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Originally served only from soda fountains, it becomes available to buy in shops, housed in a straight-sided Hutchison bottle with a metal stopper.

1906 – The Amber Bottle

coca-cola iconic packaging

A new amber-coloured bottle with an embossed logo is introduced. Thought it was designed to help with branding, other knock-off sodas began creating amber straight-side bottles with their own embossed logo. Pretty soon, Koka-Nola, Ma Coca-Co, Toka-Cola, Koke and other imitators were taking business away from Coca-Cola.

1915 – The Contour Bottle

coca-cola iconic packaging

Intent on taking back the ground they lost, Coca-Cola launched a national contest for a new bottle design—one that could be recognized in the dark, or while broken on the ground.

The Root Glass Company created a contoured bottle that took inspiration from the shape of cocoa pods. Though the prototype never entered production (its middle was larger than its base, making it unstable on conveyor belts), the design won the contest, and Root Glass Company began refining it.

1916 – The (New) Contour Bottle

coca-cola iconic packaging

Once its middle diameter was reduced, the new contour bottle was stable and approved for production. Being unlike anything else on the market, Coca-Cola regained its ground, and the bottle shape we all know and love has endured straight through to today. Talk about iconic packaging.

1957 – The White Label Bottle

In a move to be unlike anyone else on the market, Coca-Cola surprised everyone by abandoning embossed logos on bottles. They instead moved to printing their logo onto the bottle in white Applied Color Labeling (ACL). Coca-Cola was now enjoying a status few other sodas could muster.

1961 – The Full Wrap Bottle

Thanks to improvements in the ACL process, a new two-color, full wrap label was created. With the white logo laid overtop a background of red, Coca-Cola found the colour scheme that would launch them into iconic status.

In 1971, the contour bottle was granted a registered trademark, becoming only the second packaging design in history to be awarded the designation.

1978 & 1993 – The Plastic Bottles

Coca-Cola introduced a 2-litre plastic bottle to the world in 1978. It became extremely popular because it was lighter and wouldn’t break like glass bottles, had a resealable top, and was recyclable. In 1993, the 20-ounce plastic bottle entered the market, largely ending the use of glass bottles.

2008 – The Aluminum Bottle

A re-designed aluminum contour bottle debuts in select markets and goes on to win the first ever Design Grand Prix at the prestigious Cannes Lions. Its packaging design is also later turned into a plastic format.

2015 – Happy Birthday

The Coca-Cola contour bottle turns 100, having cemented its place in iconic packaging history.

So, what packaging do you think is worthy of iconic status? Tag us on social media or comment below and let us know!