Coca-Cola is one of the strongest brands in the world, supporting one of the most successful companies in the world. The company has cultivated a loyal following, and it has been able to distinguish itself from its competition relatively easily. With this in mind, it is worth considering what Coca-Cola is doing right in order to grow its appeal among customers and create long-term loyalists (Slater, 2001). Its communication strategies are wise, and its branding is all based in experiences. Coca-Cola suggests through its copy and its images that the company is one that can help a person enjoy happiness with their friends and family (Allen, 2015). This is strong and compelling, and the company plays off of this in its global communications.
Coca-Cola has implemented a “one brand” strategy that is designed to bring all of its products under one umbrella. The overall goal is to establish that Coca-Cola is a single brand, providing high quality products to all. Importantly, Coca-Cola has run with several interesting marketing ideas over the last few years. Each of them goes with the original idea of Coca-Cola, which is to sell its brand as a lifestyle brand. Just as Apple sells its products as a way to connect with other people, Coca-Cola sells its products as a way to connect. The “share a Coke with…” campaign put people’s names on the bottles. The idea was for people to find bottles with a name of a friend and share a drink with them. When combined with the company’s messaging, which shows people with happy, smiling faces, Coca-Cola has cultivated a feeling that its brand is all about social connection. This has been both helpful and effective.
The company does exhibit Day and Reibstein’s five characteristics of a truly global brand. Importantly, one of those factors is that the company is able to maintain its position across cultures and in different country contexts. A truly global brand is one that does not have to change its messaging in order to implement its approach from country to country. Rather, it is based on principles that are universal in a way and can be applied from country to country. This is something that Coca-Cola has been able to do well. What it has chosen to speak to in customers is universal. People all like to have friends, families, and social connections. They all like the idea of being a part of a network that is bigger than themselves. In every one of these instances, it is not necessary for Coca-Cola to put out a specific message for the people of a given culture. The company has hit on something that applies in all countries and cultures, regardless of differences in race, religion, and the like. The best brands are those that speak to what is innate in human beings—their aspirations for meaning and community. Coca-Cola has kept its messaging simple, and for this reason, it has been established as a truly global brand. This has been evidenced in some of its marketing, as well, which has suggested that Coca-Cola is not bounded by language, borders, or a particular flag. Even in a world where there is tremendous division, Coca-Cola is the type of company that is able to stand out on the merits.
Ultimately Coca-Cola communicates to its customers using messaging that speaks to their better angels. It speaks to the desire of people to want to come together during a time when it might be difficult to do so. This is a very important thing, and it has helped to make the Coca-Cola brand not only one that people recognize across the world, but also one that people like across the world.
- Allen, F. (2015). Secret Formula: The Inside Story of How Coca-Cola Became the Best-Known Brand in the World. Open Road Media.
- Day, G. S., & Reibstein, D. J. (2004). Managing brands in global markets. Alliances on Globalizing, University Press, Cambridge.
- Logan, N., & Tindall, N. T. J. (2014). Coca-Cola, community, diversity and cosmopolitanism: How public relations builds global trust and brand relevance with social media. Ethical practice of social media in public relations. New York, NY: Routledge.
- Slater, J. S. (2001). Collecting brand loyalty: A comparative analysis of how Coca-Cola and Hallmark use collecting behavior to enhance brand loyalty. ACR North American Advances.