Coca-Cola has built a lasting brand with a “story worth spreading.” Since the company’s introduction in 1886, Coca-Cola has remained one of the most popular soft drinks in the world and the brand is one of the most valuable. It continuously creates unique marketing campaigns that are all different, yet each has a connection. This consistency has helped the company dominate its market year after year with little exception. But, what really makes Coca-Cola’s campaigns so successful?
Over the years Coca-Cola has introduced various slogans and images for its brand; some popular, some not-so-popular. These slogans include: Drink Coca-Cola, Refresh Yourself and Open Happiness. Some of the popular images associated with the brand include: smartly dressed young women, polar bears, and, of course, Santa Claus. With every new slogan, brand image and ad campaign the company introduces, there has consistently been references to the three components of the company mission: to refresh the world, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and to create value and make a difference.
The latest Coca-Cola campaign is the Share a Coke campaign in which customers are invited to share happiness with friends, family and loved ones. As part of the campaign, Coca-Cola replaced the logo on certain cans with one of the 150 more common names. Coca-Cola has also designed Share a Coke cans that can be split into two separate cans and special vending machines that allow you to interact with people standing in front of other vending machines all across the world. These designs allow people to share the happiness of drinking a Coke.
For all the successful campaigns the company has had there has been at least one dud: New Coke. Coca-Cola changed its recipe after nearly a century of success with the same recipe. New Coke was intended to revive the Coca-Cola brand as they struggled with the competition, however the new recipe caused backlash from consumers. So why did this campaign fail to connect with consumers unlike many of its other initiatives? It became apparent that people had formed a certain bond with Coke and this new campaign in a way tampered with the Coke that so many people had grown to know and love. Coca-Cola unsurprisingly returned to the original recipe shortly afterwards.
So, how much change is too much change? New campaigns are a balance between change and consistency. Of course it is acceptable to change brand slogans, images and logos, but when it comes to changing the actual product, companies must be hesitant. Why was Coca-Cola able to successfully launch Diet Coke but not New Coke? Maybe it’s because Diet Coke is a zero calorie version of the original drink, while New Coke had all different ingredients. Maybe it’s because the original Coca-Cola drink still exists, but Diet Coke is an extension of the brand that satisfies more clients. Whatever the reason is, Diet Coke has boosted Coca-Cola’s success, while New Coke has, well…not.
Coca Cola is a perfect example of building a brand through Braithwaite Communications’ Master Narrative Branding Model, which discusses our concepts of brand architecture and brand execution. Brand architecture includes the mission, values, logo, taglines, and experience. Brand execution involves social media, public relations, the web, and employee engagement. Coca-Cola constantly introduces fresh new ideas without changing what makes people love the brand to begin with. Coca-Cola is creating change with consistency to build its brand.