Pepsi’s Weirdest Logo

Nancy Friedman
5 min readMar 30, 2023
Seven Pepsi logos, from 1898 through 2023
The evolution of the Pepsi logo. Source: CNN Business

Earlier this week, and just ahead of the brand’s 125th anniversary, Pepsi revealed its first brand redesign in 15 years. Company executives said the logo conveyed “boldness and confidence.” Fast Company called the brand refresh “the best Pepsi has looked in decades.” The design blog Brand New judged the new look, which had been created by an in-house agency, “as close as it gets to Pepsi giving Coca-Cola the middle finger and moving on.”

I like the new visual identity — and its inventive rollout — just fine. But what I’m thinking about right now is the last Pepsi logo redesign, in 2008, and about how that design was sold to Pepsi decisionmakers.

It started mysteriously. And then it got weird.

I remember the 2008 rebranding campaign because I wrote about it — twice. In January 2009 I wrote about a stealth rollout in San Francisco’s BART stations consisting of posters that deployed the new logo without a brand name. Some of the posters appeared to borrow, or steal, from the Obama-for-president campaign graphics.

Poster with yellow capital letters reading YES YOU CAN against a green background. The O in YOU is replaced by a round red-white-and-blue logo.
One of the San Francisco posters. “Yes We Can” was Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan. Photo: Nancy Friedman (January 2009)

The logo, of course, turned out to be Pepsi’s, designed by the Arnell Group, a division of global branding giant Omnicom. The only clue to the source of the posters was in the small print in the lower right-hand corner: RefreshEverything.com.

I revisited the Pepsi campaign less than a month later, when Fast Company shared a leaked 27-page presentation document that had been created by the Arnell Group to persuade Pepsi executives to approve the redesign. (The PDF is still available.)

That was the weird stuff.

As Fast Company put it, the presentation “contains visual representations of and comparisons with the following: the golden ratio, the Mona Lisa, the Parthenon, the Gutenberg Bible, the earth and its magnetic fields, and the solar system/universe. None of these things have anything to do with soda.”

The presentation also contained this heading: “The Pepsi DNA finds its origin in the dynamic of perimeter oscillations.” And this loopy illustration, one of many.

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Nancy Friedman

Writer, name developer, brand consultant, idea-ist, ex-journalist. @fritinancy on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky, Threads, and elsewhere.