Nine years ago Alex Center left school with his design degree in hand and took a job as Vitaminwater’s very first full-time graphic designer. Remember the first time you saw a bottle of Vitaminwater in the store and were like, whoa, check out this beverage label speaking to me like a real (smart, funny) person? Yeah, we all do, and Center had quite a lot to do with that.
You know who also took notice? Coca-Cola. Of course, Coca-Cola’s “whoa” moments are usually followed by a savvy business move, and right after they left their local bodega, bottle of power-c in hand, they shelled out $4.1 billion for the parent company, Glacéau. For Center that meant that without ever changing jobs, he’s worked as an in-house designer at a start-up as well as one of the world’s biggest and most beloved brands.
As Coca-Cola’s lead designer, he’s had a hand in loads of incredible projects, but the thing that impresses us most about Center is his insight into the business of being a designer. So we asked him to host a webcast for AIGA’s INitiative, a program developed specifically for in-house designers, to share his experience at Coca-Cola and the most important things he’s learned there:
- In-house is no outhouse.
- Be a thought leader, not a craftsman.
- Be the brand.
- Don’t listen to the wizard.
- Think like a politician.
- Designers belong in the boardroom.
And because these six lessons require some explaining, we’ve archived the webcast so you can tune in any time. We don’t recommend skipping ahead, unless you want to miss out on Center’s fantastically awkward early childhood photos as well as live chat messages from his mom, who tuned in, too. Awww.