David Butler & Coke's Design Machine

Fast Company has a really good article on Coke's Vice President of Global Design.

It details his role in the Coke brand and how he has systematically introduced design thinking at a global board level. Some of the projects detailed sound fantastic and i'm certainly looking forward to seeing the new vending machines coming up.

Overall it's a fascinating insight in to a design leader's work, but the part that really blew my mind was their 'design machine'. Coke have built an online tool which allows marketers and designers around the world to easily compile Coke branded artwork, (that meets brand guidelines), get it approved and send it to print.

In the past preview has built some pretty amazing digital guidelines and resource centres, but this sounds like the gold standard...

"Pick a language," Garcia begins. I have a choice of 36. Kazakh it is. "Now a product." Of the 100 options, I'm guessing Fanta is a favorite on the steppe. "Now an occasion," he instructs. At leisure. I survey the options, and pick an image of smiling people gathered around the table, hoisting cans of Fanta; above is the message, "Open happiness!" in Kazakh. A perfect banner for my little shashlik stand in Almaty.

I hit send and the machine zips my design for local approval and legal review, then sends it off to the printer. The whole thing has taken less than 10 minutes.

The machine, launched in 2007, holds more than 8,600 templates and is constantly being fed with new "best in class" materials generated around the world. So the smallest grocery store in Tokyo can take advantage of, say, the best of Turner Duckworth's work in San Francisco. And if a particularly clever designer in Guangzhou comes up with a great campaign for Chinese New Year, the work can be zapped around the planet."