Straight up and flying right: the Cola that’s out to challenge the fizzies

A new entry into the maxed out world of fizzy drinks, Charlie’s Straight Up Cola is both a social experiment and an attempt at producing an all-natural cola. The Better Drinks Co, Charlie’s parent, turned to Chris Chong’s team at Redcactus to design them a package worthy of a thumbs up.

Charlie’s new cola is just another entry in the crowded world of fizzy drinks. However, Redcactus CEO Chris Chong says they were attempting to break the mould – both in terms of introducing a limited release-cum-social experiment factor, and the non-traditional design of the can.

Redcactus is the agency behind KFC So Good (Australia), which won silver at the 2012 Pentawards.

Chong says he wanted to break the minimalist design ethics common with Charlie’s competitors and challenge the consumer’s habits and beliefs.

Chris Chong

“We wanted to disrupt at shelf level. In this category – we’re talking cola – it’s a big sea of red. Big sea of black. Big sea of white, or silver,” he says.

His decision to break the mould comes from the client wanting to tell their story, but more importantly, the fact that he feels the design industry is dominated by sheep preferring to follow each other’s lead.

“It’s like having 30 white sheep and one of them is sprayed red – that red one is always going to stand out.”

And it’s standing out that’s the whole point of design, he says. What good is design if it’s not disruptive and attracting consumers?

It’s why the design on the can is extremely busy, Chong says. What’s in the drink (and what’s not) is splattered all over the can, alongside the story behind the cola – and the obligatory legal bits.

“No numbers or chemicals. No sausages,” explains the wording on the can. “Just making sure you are still reading this.”

The design was also about linking to Charlie’s social media campaign, which asks consumers exactly what they think about the new product and what changes they would like to see. It means an initial limited release test batch will only get picked up for mainstream production if there is positive feedback from the market.

“I think it’s the first time, or at least in my 25 years [as a designer], that we’ve put on the packaging ‘tell us what you think.’”

He compares the whole process to being on X-Factor, and says it is possibly just as nerve-wracking. But that comes with the territory of working in a field where success is on the back of consumer demand.

For everyone else that wants to produce successful design? “Believe in yourself, and just go and do it. Don’t worry about it – just get it done.”

And learn how to draw, for goodness’ sake.

Charlie’s Straight Up Cola review – XYNZ Magazine

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