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The Power Of Branding: What Businesses Can Learn From Coca-Cola

From 1886 till date, one beverage company continues to dominate the market for carbonated drinks. With 1.7 billion servings of its product consumed daily in over 200 countries worldwide. The beverage company was earlier recognized from the Coca-Cola drink to their world war II fruit flavoured success now known as Fanta and the lemon-lime powered Sprite. This firm possesses a long history of various product lines. They perfectly integrated these products with the right branding while leveraging strategic marketing

A company that has lasted more than 130 years makes one wonder what can we learn from this market leader? What can businesses learn from Coca-Cola?

Brief History Of Coca-Cola

The Coca-Cola drink was created as far back as 1886, when an Atlanta pharmacist, John S. Pemberton, attempted to manufacture a tonic to cure most common ailments. He based the then Coca-Cola drink on two core ingredients: Cocaine from the coca leaf and caffeine-rich extracts of the kola. Cocaine was however removed in 1903. 

His bookkeeper, Frank Robinson coined the phrase “Coca-Cola” which has been the trademark since then. The syrup formula was back then sold as a soda fountain drink. And after series of advertising, the drink became phenomenally successful. Another pharmacist from Atlanta, Asa Griggs Candler secured the recipe for $238.98 in 1888 and incorporated the company the following year.                                                                                                                                             

His leadership brought plenty of success and the company went on to sell 370,877 gallons in 1900 from about 9,000 gallons of syrup in 1890. The company has had 200 owners to date, all bringing Coca-Cola closer to the now $35.1 billion in revenue which makes it the 84th largest economy in the world, just ahead of Costa Rica, according to Coca-Cola’s 2010 SEC Filings, CIA World Factbook.

History of Coca-Cola.

Branding And Strategic Marketing

Coca-Cola is a market leader for a reason. Whether it is the colour that strikes an immediate intent to buy or the “Coca-Cola” logo that seems like liquid running through red paint, or maybe it’s the Coca-Cola advert of a super thirsty individual gulping down a chilled coke in a manner that makes viewers almost taste it. But what does Coca-Cola do differently?

1) Advertisement; 

According to a Coca-Cola report, the company spends more money on advertising than Microsoft and Apple combined: In 2010, Coca-Cola ($2.9billion), Microsoft ($1.6) & Apple ($691million). It has been a long company tradition. 

But it is not about the amount of money spent, it’s the fact that each of those commercials was directed towards understanding the customer’s needs, and satisfying them by connecting to their emotions. The secret of Coca-Cola marketing is that it is all about emotions.

The ultimate message the company was trying to pass was that every bottle of coke contains an unexplainable amount of joy and happiness. That’s why you keep seeing slogans that change over time but represent the same value: Happiness.

-1979: Have a Coke and a Smile.

-1989: Can’t Beat the Feeling.

-2001: Life Tastes Good.

-2009: Open Happiness.

-2011: Life Begins Here.

-2016: Taste the Feeling.

Taste the feeling.

So when you “Open Happiness” to “Taste the Feeling” discovering that “Life Tastes Good”, you feel more unknowingly connected to the product as adverts were made to make every consumer feel special. And when you go to the market you would rather buy a product that cares about you or at least acts like it does than buy a product that doesn’t appeal to the buyer’s emotions.

2) The Coca-Cola Logo

There is barely a single human on earth that doesn’t know what the Coca-Cola logo looks like. It is almost impossible to forget such a simple but unique masterpiece. According to steel media “the red and white Coca-Cola logo is recognized by 94% of the world’s population. Coca-Cola has also reported that its name is the second-most understood term in the world, behind “okay”

This is all thanks to a moment of brilliance from Frank Robinson. A business logo is an image the public sees when they think of a product, and often having one that stands out matters.

Coca-Cola advertisement.

3) The Coca-Cola Brand Colours

As basic as this may sound, colours matter and this showed when in 1931, the Coca-Cola brand commissioned an illustrator called Haddon Sundblom to create an oil painting of Santa Claus drinking a bottle of Coke on Christmas Eve. 

This painting became an iconic image, redesigned and used by writers, filmmakers, and even artists throughout the world. This automatically meant that with a little branding know-how, Coca-Cola was able to make its idea of their product and Santa stick, and people could no longer think of Santa on Christmas eve without imagining him drinking a bottle of Coke. 

The company continued to use this concept for more commercials and when they decided to try something different in 2006, there were several complaints, which resulted in the original trucks with the Coca-Cola painting returning in 2007.

Everything in marketing matters even the company’s colour.

Coca Cola Truck.

What Companies Can Learn From Coca-Cola

Just because Coca-Cola found its secret weapons, such as having more product lines, picking branding and people over product, spending more money on commercials doesn’t mean all companies have to copy this, but here are some things every company should learn from Coca-Cola.

RULE NO 1: Consistency Is Key

This rule is king in any sector, be it the beverage or industrial sector. The company kept on creating fresh marketing ideas that engaged consumers to get more and more familiar with their products. Be Consistent.

RULE NO 2: A Company for People, by People

As stated earlier, every Coca-Cola advert aims at appealing to the emotions of buyers with the result of making them feel special, thereby making them unknowingly indebted to returning the favour. Coca-Cola focused its marketing strategies around the people rather than the products. 

Focus on the People.

Coca-Cola bottles.

RULE NO 3: Create a Strong Visual Identity

When tobacco industries were trying to get more people to buy into the idea of smoking cigarettes, all they had to do was put them in movies. The aim was simple: If the public saw celebrities indulging in the act it would make them also indulge in it. A strong visual identity is gold and Coca-Cola went from movies to T-shirts, to hats. Create a good and strong visual identity.

RULE NO 4: Creativity is Everything

We are aware that Coca-Cola continues to create new products, new packaging techniques changing from glass bottles to plastic bottles, to their advertising techniques, all aimed at not telling people they have the best products but rather saying “you would be happier if you bought a drink”.

Be creative.

RULE NO 5: Remain Relevant

No matter how consistent a company is, it has to be done in a way that preaches relevance on its part. Coca-Cola kept on flowing with the trend from way back till now. It had the first vending machine that could connect to the internet, which was the first device of its nature. 

Companies should invest in research and development for it would make them more aware of the next trend, thereby keeping them on track with the world’s pace. Consumers like a company that keeps evolving with the times. Be Relevant.


Coca-Cola has had a long spell of market dominance, one that still runs successfully to date. Consequently, businesses can learn a lot from the strategies of the largest beverage company in the world.

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