Walking the streets of Paris recently I was struck by the appearance of the latest point of sale campaign for Coke. It wasn’t the visual language of the campaign that struck me, nor a stunning creative execution, there were no bronzed & cut young French guys or girls. In fact what struck me wasn’t anything that I saw, more what I didn’t see. There was no photographic image, no brand colours, no copy line, strictly speaking there was not even a product shot – an unusual approach for retail point of sale to say the least.
The window decals feature a burst of light with the shape of the iconic coke bottle reversed out of the center. Above the graphic sits a white version of the equally iconic Coke brand mark. The unique shape of the bottle has become so synonymous with Coke that they can run a retail campaign based around that brand property as the hero, and the brand mark is so recognizable it can be presented in virtually any form. Coke as a brand has built three highly recognizable and highly effective brand properties: the Coke brand mark; the Coca Cola red; and the iconic Coke bottle shape. These properties provide instant customer recognition when used individually or in combination.
Whilst Coke has spent hundreds of millions of dollars over decades to build these brand properties, their success is not purely a result of time and money. Consider a comparison with the Pepsi brand which has spent similar buckets of cash over the last thirty years building customer awareness. What brand properties does Pepsi have as a result of their investment? Yes they have a brand mark, but not one as unique or identifiable as the Coke brand mark. Over time Pepsi has failed to build ownership of a brand colour in the way Coke owns Red, Fanta owns Orange, and Sprite owns green. Finally, there is nothing iconic about the Pepsi can or for that matter any other property that has been developed and marketed for the purposes of the Pepsi brand.
The failure on the part of Pepsi to build remarkable brand properties has not been for lack of effort or dollars, but as a result of a lack of understanding of one of the basic principals of branding; building brand properties.
The Coke/Pepsi comparison serves to remind us all that no-matter the size of our business, our brands and our marketing budget, by developing unique and memorable brand properties we are able to fully leverage the value of our brand building efforts.
David Ansett, Brandamentalist.
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