Saturday, September 23, 2006

Brand Insights : Coca-Cola

How Coca-Cola grew from a small drugstore in Atlanta to a global branding powerhouse is legendary. It was initially sold not as a soft drink for thirst but as a "brain and nerve tonic." In its first year in 1886, advertising costs totaled US$74 while sales only totaled US$50, symbolizing the firm's future long-term reliance on TV and other advertising. Today, Coca-Cola spends more than US$2 billion on advertising worldwide and the drink can be easily purchased by more than 5 billion people.

Coca-Cola is a perfect example of the ultimate in branding and has, in fact, taken the concept of 'identity' to a whole new level. Consumers can recognise the Coca-Cola branding despite language differences - whether the product is in German, Albanian or Indian, it is recognised by its shape. The branding of this popular soft drink has been established to such a great extent that consumers no longer need to 'read' the word - they simply rely on the visual impact of 'seeing' the shape. Brand value is calculated using a simple method (a method which has revealed some major marketing successes in the industry) by comparing market capitalisation with net tangible or physical assets. The difference between the two figures is the 'brand value' - the extent to which competitors value a product/company over and above that of its tangible assets.The results of this method put Coca-Cola at the helm of brand value success. With a brand value of 4000% above tangible assets they have succeeded in creating the ultimate in brands, with enormous profit potential.

When pharmacist Dr John Pemberton developed his brain tonic in May 1886 in Atlanta, Georgia, in the US, it was his book-keeper, Frank Robinson, who first named the brew and then wrote it out with a slanting flourish. Within three weeks, the first ads ran in The Atlanta Journal, stating: "Coca-Cola. Delicious! Refreshing! Exhilarating! Invigorating! The New Pop Soda Fountain Drink, containing the properties of the wonderful Coca plant and famous Cola nuts." Not bad for those days - and an excellent example of establishing the intrinsics and brand platform from the outset and then staying true.

Initially sold by the glass, Coke was soon supported through banners and the use of coupons to "claim your free drink". With Robinson's signature and the colour red, the journey had begun. A major event in the evolution of the brand in the US was the decision to hold a national Coca-Cola competition. The brief was simple: to design a bottle shape that everybody would recognise - even when touching it in the dark. The distinctive bottle was launched in 1915, adding to the cluster of elements already making up the brand and becoming a legally protected piece of intellectual property that remains a key differentiator. Cans were introduced only in 1955 - and it must be the only time that a picture of a bottle has been printed on a can to maintain distinctiveness.

Martin Lindstrom, the world renowed Brand Futurist tells that in order for a brand to gain maximum recall, the brand needs to be “SMASHABLE’… which he means that the each element of the brand should be so distinctive in nature that even if it were broken into several fragments, each element of the brand should be recognisable even then…the major thought behind the famous CONTOUR bottle was that even if the bottle were to be smashed alongwith several should be easily recognisable….Well a simple idea does go a long way !!!




Blogger John said...

Wow....Cool Ads!

12:20 AM  

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