Campari Soda's Redesign Doubles Down On An Icon

by Rudy Sanchez on 03/05/2020 | 3 Minute Read

Campari is an alcoholic aperitif with intense citrus and spicy flavor that is also known for its bitter bite. It’s relatively low alcoholic content, and “little goes a long way” taste, makes it an ideal base for a refreshing cocktail, like the classic Campari Soda, first bottled and sold in 1932, a very early pre-mixed ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail.

Besides the deep crimson hue, Campari Sodas are known for their distinctive and stylish conical bottle, designed by artist Fortunato Depero, which has gone on to become an icon. Refreshing such a longstanding and storied brand can be tricky—change too much, and you lose the established familiarity and alienate longtime fans. But an occasional refresh is required for nearly every brand, one that feels modern but says we still play the hits.

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“The challenge with this kind of project is being super innovative and straightforward into the design but, at the same time, very respectful to a historical brand,” says Fabio Molinaro, Creative Director of Robilant Associati, the agency behind Campari Soda’s latest refresh.

“You cannot invent or add anything to such a rich and meaningful history, but you still [need to] increase its potential and make the new image appealing, not only for established consumers but for new targets as well," he adds. "Most importantly, a brand like this is never vintage, is never nostalgic, and is always oriented towards the future."

Though Depero’s bottle debuted in the 30s, it still manages to charm with its retro and futuristic look simultaneously, and the new case packaging and logo makes use of classic typefaces from the brand’s past. 

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The packaging is radial and makes use of the bottle shape and crisp linework, using red against white for a light color treatment that highlights the beverage's striking red hue. The new visual identity makes a nostalgic nod with the addition of the date they first introduced Campari Soda, 1932, and to the city that calls home to both Campari and Robilant Associati, Milan, a city renowned for fashion, style, and design, all of which becomes evident in the Campari Soda redesign.

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“Milan means characterized but never loud," says Fabio. "It's elegance, hidden treasures, attention to details, and [an] immensely communicative attitude. All this is reflected in the new identity with a touch of light-heartedness and delightfulness."

Beloved globally, Campari is sold as a liqueur and bitter that is an integral component of fashionable cocktails such as the negroni, and though Campari Soda primarily gets sold in Italy, a goal of the redesign was to elevate the RTD bottles to the same level of prestige and allure of its base product internationally. Because of this, the brief was more an articulation of a redefined brand strategy.

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“More than a design brief, there was a strategic intent," says Fabio. "Uplift the image of Campari Soda and drive it through the next years into the national and international scene."

“It was interesting creating a brand visual identity with a characterized and ownable design and structure, yet very flexible in terms of messages," he adds. "It is a container of communications' assets, always different but always very recognizable."

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Fabio and the team at Robilant Associati took a unique and well-known Milanese icon and created a flexible visual identity that is expandable and instantly recognizable, retaining the classic elegance and casual, light-hearted attitude of Campari Soda, using the redesign as a launchpad for the rocket-shaped bottle’s international aspirations.

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