Skip to Content

What is the trademark color of Coca-Cola?

The trademark color of Coca-Cola is red. This iconic red color has become synonymous with the Coca-Cola brand and its famous cola drink over the many years since the drink was first created in the late 19th century.

The History of Coca-Cola’s Color

Coca-Cola was invented in 1886 by John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist in Atlanta, Georgia. Pemberton’s original formula used caramel coloring to give the drink its distinctive dark brown color. However, when businessman Asa Griggs Candler bought the rights to Coca-Cola in 1887, he decided to change the formula and branding.

Candler wanted a bolder, more eye-catching color that would stand out from other drinks. He worked with his business partner Frank M. Robinson to develop a distinctive logo and label design featuring the color red. Robinson designed the now iconic Spencerian script logo in white against a red background. This was first introduced on Coca-Cola bottles in 1895.

How the Color Red Became Central to the Brand

There were a few key reasons why the color red became so important to Coca-Cola’s branding and marketing strategy:

  • It made the drink stand out on store shelves and in soda fountains
  • It was bold, lively, and memorable
  • It was thought to stimulate appetite and thirst
  • It conveyed a sense of youth and energy

In the early 20th century, as Coca-Cola’s distribution spread nationwide in the United States, its red branding helped cement it as the definitive cola drink. By 1920, red had become the trademark color indelibly linked to Coca-Cola in the minds of consumers.

Specifying the Signature Red Color

Over the decades, Coca-Cola has gone through slight variations in the specific shade of red used. In the 1950s, the company standardized the red color for marketing materials using the custom color Pantone 485. This bold, warm red contains strong orange undertones.

More recently, Coca-Cola has specified the red for digital design purposes using the following hex code:

Hex code #ED1C24

This hex code translates to a RGB value of:

Red 237
Green 28
Blue 36

So when you see that bright red color on a can of Coke, signage, or any other Coca-Cola branding, you can be sure it matches that distinct Pantone 485 red.

Using Red in Brand Design and Marketing

Coca-Cola leverages its signature red across every facet of the brand’s design and marketing:

  • Packaging uses red backgrounds with white lettering
  • Vending machines, coolers, trucks all painted red
  • Advertisements, commercials, and promotions emphasize red
  • Sponsorships of events, sports teams, etc require red Coke branding

This consistent, prominent use of red makes the color inextricable from Coca-Cola in consumers’ minds. When people see red, they think of Coke. When they see Coke branding, it activates ideas of thirst, refreshment, and the unique Coca-Cola taste.

Protecting Red as a Trademark

Given the importance of red to its brand identity, Coca-Cola has vigilantly sought to protect it as an intellectual property asset. While a single color cannot be trademarked on its own, Coca-Cola has registered many trademarks involving red:

  • Coca-Cola logo in white script on red background
  • Red Coke bottle/can shape
  • “Red Disc” logo

Coca-Cola has also sued competitors using red branding that it claimed could confuse consumers or dilute the distinctiveness of its red color. These legal maneuvers underline just how critical red is to Coca-Cola as a multibillion dollar international brand.


Red has been an integral part of Coca-Cola’s identity and marketing for over 120 years. Although the exact shade has been refined, that bold, warm red carries tremendous cultural meaning and recognition value. The red color helps Coke stand out, convey confidence and youthfulness, and reminds consumers of the classic soda taste. Protecting the association between red and Coke is imperative for the brand, cementing its status as an American icon. So the next time you see that famous red branding, you can reflect on its surprisingly fascinating history.