Why do you choose Coke? Coca-Cola Case Study.
Why do you choose Coke? Coca-Cola Case Study.
Do you think that branding does not matter or that some products are just too common and plainly boring to be branded? Read this story about a soft drink invented in 1886 with 9 drinks sold per day that has become one of the world’s most famous brands with 19,400 bottles sold every second: Coca-Cola.
Despite being 130 years old the brand lives on and is doing quite well. In 2013 Millward Brown estimated Coca-Cola’s brand is worth $80 billion. How is it possible?
Unique right from the start
Right from the beginning the drink was advertised as being ‘cool’ and unique. The very first advert portrayed it as not just a tasty drink but something to relive your nerves and make you feel better. Its brand identity has been strengthened further by eye catching logo.
At first the drink was only available from soda fountains, but when at the turn of the century the company introduced glass bottles its sales grew rapidly. Competitors tried to benefit from this growing popularity, but smart branding allowed Coca-Cola to maintain its uniqueness. The company started to sell its drinks in famous ‘contour bottles’.
Distinctive bottle design together with an advertising campaign that emphasized the uniqueness and qualities of the original Coca-Cola was a hit. The company inspired brand loyalty and its sales continued to grow.
Santa changed forever…
1931 witnessed the debut of the Santa’s adverts. The Company paid about $1000 (more than enough to buy a car in the 1930s) to create a painting (yes painting!) featuring Coca-Cola and Santa. This was another brilliant idea that still lives on.
Sales were usually higher in the summer as Cola offered refreshment. Associating the drink with Santa not only matched the red branding style, but also combined the festive mood of Christmas with the joy of drinking coke. The idea has been refreshed every couple of years with new adverts and marketing campaigns.
This association between Coke and Christmas was a marketing hit. Refreshed every couple of years with new ideas it still lives on. Coca-Cola truck and snowy landscape has become synonymous with Christmas just like the polar bear drinking Coke. Last year the company actually decided to tour the UK with its Christmas trucks.
“I would like to buy the World a Coke”
In the 1971 another famous advert debuted – ‘I would like to buy the World a Coke’ released both as a song and a TV advert. The ad cost $250 000 making it the most expensive commercial in history at that time. It was money well spend though. It has been voted as one of the best commercials of all times. The idea of uniting the world with a Coke was also perfectly timed – the song was released in the same year as John Lennon’s “Imagine”.
It served one more purpose – it helped to build yet another positive association – drinking coke and socialising with friends and family. A trend that is still present in company advertising.
The company was also sure to embrace new trends. As the consumers became more conscious about their health Coca-Cola unveiled Diet Coke, which has been later supplemented with other variants such as Coca-Cola Zero and Coca-Cola Life.
Learning from mistakes
Just like any other brand, Coca-Cola not always got it right. In 1985 to compete with Pepsi, Coca-Cola decided to change its formula. Before introducing the ‘New Coke’ company conducted an extensive research that suggested the new formula should be a hit and that consumers like it. It turned out to be the opposite. ‘New Coke’ was met with very negative reaction from the public. After just 77 days the old formula has been reintroduced.
Even more personal
One of the latest branding ideas was to establish even more personal connection between the customers and the brand. The company replaced the logo on its bottles with different first names. Allowing customers to buy bottles with their first names and sharing it on social media was a great move to create even stronger brand and a personal attachment that could not be substituted with another product.
What can we learn?
There is much to learn from Coca-Cola’s branding efforts over the last 130 years. The initial success has been possible because the drink has always been branded as being ‘unique’. This uniqueness was demonstrated not only in its taste, but also in its marketing efforts like the logo and the contour bottle.
The company has been very strategic with its brand building. Not shy to spend money on brand building and campaigns. Its branding has been very consistent across different products, it never changed radically. The brand evolved together with its customers. It is still the same ‘cool’ drink it was in 1886, but now it also offers something to health conscious consumers. Also just as the whole society, it aims to be ‘green’ and environmentally friendly.
Coca-Cola focused on building positive image of its products. It is the drink of Christmas and the drink of friendship. The brand also features very strong personality demonstrated through Santa and polar bear adverts, as well as songs. The recent campaign of replacing the logo with first names is yet another example of this aspect.
Finally, the ‘New Coke’ is the perfect example of how to learn from mistakes and how listening to customers can strengthen the brand. A quick reaction to the public backlash and re-introduction of the Classic Coke increased sales and improved customers’ loyalty.
Coca-Cola is one of the strongest brands in history. It doesn’t mean it can afford to stop improving it. Despite years of tradition and attachment customers may turn away from it as they become more conscious of their health. The company recently launched a new “One Brand” campaign in order to promote healthier versions of its drinks like Coca-Cola life and Coca-Cola Zero.
You can call our Branding Specialists or use the form below if you need marketing or branding services:
0333 014 2035
Author: Seb Waligorski
Digital Media Manager at Ionize
I am a Branding and Digital Media Specialist creating Business Recognition and Online Visibility since 2010. I make sure that businesses stand out from their competitors and benefit from increasing customer loyalty and sales.
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