Leadership Secrets From Pininfarina’s Designer Coke Machine: “Freestyle”

FerrariWhat is it about a Ferrari that turns your head?  Chances are its Pininfarina. Pininfarina is an Italian automotive design house that for years has designed almost all Ferrari bodies. Pininfarina is responsible for some of the most beautiful cars of all time.

Pininfarina Soda Dispenser - Coke Freestyle

Pininfarina Freestyle Coca-Cola Dispenser.

Recently I was in a restaurant. I was getting a drink from their new video-screen soda fountain. Then something caught my eye. The Pininfarina logo. It was tucked away towards the bottom of the machine.

Being a car guy I couldn’t believe it. A Pininfarina soda dispenser? Is that really what I am seeing?

It’s like having a hammer made by Hermes.

There are things leaders can learn from this unlikely machine:

> Something special is timeless: John Keats said, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Ask anyone who owns an old Pininfarina-designed Ferrari. The Pininfarina Coke machine will be used and enjoyed by people for years to come. When the machines are ultimately are retired, they will be collectible and remain valuable.

Standard soda dispenser.

Standard soda dispenser.

> Something mundane can be special: Can you think of anything duller than a standard soda dispenser? Soda has been poured the same way for decades. One day, someone at Coca-Cola woke up and thought “I can do something special… even with a boring machine. I want to create something that’s a joy to experience.”


> Something special commands a greater price: The Coke Freestyle machine might cost more to make, but it leases for a third more money than standard soda dispensers. Plus customers buy more soda from Pininfarina machines than standard dispensers. Something beautiful brings in more dollars. This makes good business sense.

School building created with design in mind.

School building created with design in mind.

> Creating something special is less about money and more about will. Our school recently needed more classrooms. Our original school building is standard institution style. . . a big box with long hallways. When it came time to build the new building, we wanted something special.  It needed to be warm and inviting. We needed a space that people would really want to be in. We assembled a team who carefully considered our options. We put a lot of thought into design, functionality, window placement, layout, colors and materials.  Our choices didn’t cost any more, but the extra thought resulted in a significantly more pleasing building. It wasn’t about spending more, but being intentional about design.

So put in extra thought the next time you’re designing something. . . whether a soda dispenser, building, break room, Christmas party, staff retreat or benefits plan. It doesn’t always take much to go from “ordinary” to “surprise and delight”.

Pininfarina Logo - Coca-Cola Freestyle Machine

What everyday things have you seen made special because a leader cared? Leave a comment below.



photo by: Bludgeoner86