Alongside Cola and Fanta, Pepsi is the beverage of choice for virtually the entire world. No matter where you are, there’ll always be a variation of this soda somewhere. It’s not as everywhere as Coke, of course, seeing how the latter dumps a lot of money into careful branding. It doesn’t mean, however, that Pepsi isn’t as interesting in this aspect.
Pepsi was brought to light in 1898, 12 years after Coca-Cola was released, and it was initially called ‘Brad’s Drink’. It didn’t catch on, obviously, which is why they renamed it ‘Pepsi’ – after ‘pepsis’, which means ‘digestion’ in Ancient Greek. It was sold as a remedy for stomach issues at first, hence the name.
We have some records of the ancient ‘Brad’s drink’ logos, which were overwhelmingly just long rectangular stamps with the brand’s name of them. They were usually blue and sported the usual typographic font, nothing too special.
When the name was changed to ‘Pepsi Cola’, so did the logo. This time they decided to use the red coloring, which was probably derived from the universal medicinal color scheme – red and white. The writing itself was pretty odd – thin, sprawling and uneven.
Some parts looked handwritten, and others resembled cogs and gears. It was the usual look for the logos of that time, after all.
The third logo attempt made the emblem more readable, fortunately. It still retained some previous design choices. For instance, the two first letters of the words were much larger and sprouted several twirls – most notably, on the lower end of the ‘C’ letter, which was carried onto even the 60s.
In general, the letters became thicker and clearer, although they were still positioned oddly and had twirls all over the place. Some were also designed weirdly – for instance, the ‘e’ looked like sigma.
The same year, they made the letters even thicker. More importantly, they were positioned almost on the same level. There were still some old details from the previous designs. For instance, the top of the ‘C’ letter sprouted some sort of a banner for some reason (there was a word ‘drink’ on it).
By 1940, they made it even clearer. The color red became a bit brighter, and they also removed the weird notches and edges of some of the letters. The twirls and waves were still a huge part of the design, though.
This was the last we saw of this design. They didn’t change much, but they did put the usual metal bottle cap on the logo, and then they tilted it sideways (to the left) a bit and put the writing emblem right in the middle of it – on the white space between the red on top and blue below.
For this one, they took the bottle cap again, but made it face the onlooker directly and removed the red writing in favor of the plain black drink name – all in uppercase. They also enlarged the writing, so it suddenly started to dominate the image. They just rotated this new writing across several backgrounds afterwards.
In the core, it’s the same design. They removed the edges of the cap, so it now looked just like an ordinary circle. Then, the writing became smaller and narrower, as well as dark blue instead of black. Lastly, they put a rectangle behind. The circle and its outline occupied the entire middle, while the left remainder was red, and the right one was blue.
They didn’t do much for the 1987 style. The colors weren’t as pale anymore, and the writing in the middle was enlarged slightly, but that’s about it.
They continued to use the ‘cap’ emblem, and they do even now. In 1991, the designers made it closer to the contemporary variant, in that the white space became way smaller.
They also put a red trail of sorts to the left of it, which looks like a trapezoid, but the right part of it is concealed by the circle itself. Then, they took the writing element, made it bright blue, tilted it to the right side and here you go.
This one was the first 3D design they did. They basically just took the untilted drink name, made it white and put it on the digital rippled blue background with lots of illumination and shading, which made it look like a TV commercial on pause.
They didn’t forget about the circle part, either – just like the background, it’s illuminated, 3D, and they also cropped it by putting it in the corner of the logo.
They continued to experiment with the volume, and for this design they took both the circle (which is now a ball with shading and a lot of gradient), as well as writing, which is now tilted (again) and heavily outlined by blue.
The positioning is not set in stone, but the name is usually just on top of the ball and slightly to the left.
In 2003, the blue outline on the name became thicker, and the ball basically became cartoony – mostly in the lighting department. It’s still glinting, but that glint is unrealistic and is basically white blobs in key places.
They did tone down on cartoonish design in 2006, which meant they made the blobs more hazy and added gradient, and that’s about it. The name also moved to below the ball and got painted blue, and that’s about it.
There was a massive overhaul in 2008 that saw several key changes.
The text remained blue, but it was now lowercase, very thin and pretty simplistic (in contrast to the previous blocky and imposing style). They usually put it just to the right of the ball.
The ball itself changed coloring a bit. They tilted the look counterclockwise and made the red part more dominant. In addition, they aren’t symmetric anymore, and the white part grows from left bottom to the top right. That makes it look like a smile a bit, which probably was the intention.
And lastly, all the volume, shading and gradients are gone, which arguably is a massive improvement.
In 2014, they made the letters thicker, and that was the only real change.
The original choice of colors was red with some white, which is an obvious choice if you’re making a home remedy drink. However, the addition of the blue in the 30-40s was most likely due to patriotic reasons. The blue, however, didn’t really associate with the brand until only the 90s, when they basically privatized the color blue.