Karma Cola

  • 2016

  • Social Impact

Designed By:

  • Karma Cola and Special Group

Commissioned By:

Karma Cola

Designed In:

New Zealand

We believe good design and good business is about more than looking good and making money, even though both of these things help. It’s about doing good too.
We believe in the life changing magic of giving a [email protected]#$.
And, judging by the response, this approach seems to be working.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The purpose behind the design of Karma Cola's in our name. The world drinks 1.9 billion cola drinks a day but few of those 1.9 billion know where cola comes from. We thought we'd do something about that. We created a 'karmic' product and company, a virtuous circle benefitting every link in our supply chain. As well as buying cola from farmers in Sierra Leone, we pay another 5 cents from every bottle to invest in projects benefiting grower communities. The central idea in the design of our bottle and brand is a mythological West African deity, Mami Wata, central to the lives of people in Boma where our cola comes from.The yin and yang of Mami Wata's split personality is portrayed in angel and devil characters.

  • We've been careful not to compromise the impact of our visual language by crowding the design with rational reasons to buy like 'organic'. Most people won't immediately know our story, but the design is an encouragement to pick it up, find out more. Having caught their eye we then have to win taste buds. We only use organic and Fairtrade ingredients leaving out preservatives, phosphoric acid, high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients commonly found in colas. Transparency is unique. To show we have nothing to hide we list everything and our not-secret recipe was awarded 1 Star 'simply delicious' at UK Taste 2015. Our packaging and brand won a Purple Pin (best in overall category in show) at NZ Best Awards.

  • The business of Karma Cola marries our purpose with profit, for our company's enlightened self interest and for the beneficiaries of The Karma Cola Foundation. Before we started we couldn't source a Fairtrade cola so we had to develop our own supply chain and establish a mechanism for distributing the proceeds; The Karma Cola Foundation. For this we were awarded the World's Fairest Trader by Fairtrade International, chosen out of 27,000 products from more than 100 countries. Over the 4 years we've been in business we've grown steadily opening markets around the world. Over 60% of our drinks are sold in 13 overseas countries supplying to 3000 accounts globally.

  • Soft drinks aren't known for their good qualities. No mainstream brands use cola in their recipes anymore nor do they honour the provenance of it. Our ethos is to be good for the people, good for the land and as good for you as a fizzy drink can be. We treat the people who grow our ingredients like they live next-door. The Karma Cola Foundation guarantees growers get something back from drinkers. This is also a world first for a soft drink. Fairtrade certification has strict environmental rules ensuring ingredients are grown with less chemicals, less waste and more biodiversity. And our organic certification also guarantees the absence of harmful industrial agricultural methods and toxic byproducts.

    Since bottling the first batch of Karma Cola in 2012 the Karma Cola Foundation has sent USD75,000 in small reliable increments back to the communities it supports in Sierra Leone. We don't tell the village elders how to best use the funds, as they know what they need more than we do. The Karma Cola Foundation so far has: supported 8 villages, sent 60 girls to school, sponsored an HIV/AIDS dance troupe, built a rice huller to provide food for future months, supported 75 farmers through a seed bank, funded 4 teacher's who teach 207 children, built 1 bridge connecting 2 parts of Boma village, rehabilitated 12 forest farms, and looked after 2000 people during the Ebola crisis. Miraculously nobody was infected.

    Like we said karma is our ethos. The more Karma Cola we sell, the more good we can do. We've just released a new smaller format, a 250ml can, to address a gap we've observed in the UK and continental European markets for a lighter, smaller, more convenient product as an occasional treat to accompany a growing trend in high quality street food.