How can brands survive for over a century and remain strong? To answer that question, we need to look no further than Coca-Cola. Founded in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1886, today Kantar BrandZ finds Coca-Cola to be the 10th most valuable brand in the 2023 Most Valuable Global Brands report. Sold around the world, Coca-Cola is served 1.9 billion times a day, making it the most valuable Food & Beverages brand.
Of the Top 10 Most Valuable Global Brands, most are tech latecomers like Apple, Google, and Microsoft; only Louis Vuitton is older than Coca-Cola. So how does a humble soft drink hold its own against such powerhouse brands? Kantar’s new BrandSnapshot tool reveals Coca-Cola to be a Star in many countries, well-known and appreciated by many consumers despite its age.
Strong brands like Coca-Cola have three important qualities:
- Meaningful: meeting peoples’ needs both functionally and emotionally
- Different: offering things others don’t and leading the way in their category
- Salient: coming to mind readily at key decision-making moments
Almost universal distribution, strong marketing, and a long heritage mean that Coca-Cola is one of the most salient brands in its category, but salience alone will not keep a brand strong. Consistent investment in innovation and marketing continually refreshes what Coca-Cola stands for in the minds of consumers, building on a positive and well-known experience to keep the brand not only salient but also meaningfully different.
Kantar’s BrandSnapshot finds that Coca-Cola has a justified premium in many countries, which can only happen when a brand is meaningful and different enough to create strong Pricing Power. This is no small achievement for a large, well-known brand, but Coca-Cola’s product and marketing initiatives have ensured that it is more likely to be perceived as having great advertising, tasting better, and being well-designed, even allowing for its size.
Coca-Cola makes a concerted effort to remain meaningful, different, and salient.
- The brand’s global innovation platform, Coca-Cola Creations, has led the brand’s foray into limited edition flavours, each launch coupled with a unique experience to engage younger consumers. While 2023’s futuristically flavoured Y3000 created with the help of AI may not have appealed to everyone, it still confirmed that the brand was at the forefront of recent trends.
- Strong brands do not wait to seize opportunities to enter new, profitable sub-categories, particularly if they can team up with another global icon. First launched in Mexico in 2022, Jack Daniel’s & Coca‑Cola RTD – a pre-mixed, canned cocktail – is now available in the US and UK. The Jack and Coke launch also exemplifies Coca-Cola’s willingness to leverage its global scale to identify likely winners.
- Coke’s history of inventive marketing strategies is legendary. From rebranding Father Christmas to animating polar bears, from The Happiness Factory to Share a Coke, which allowed people to buy a Coke with their name on, making human connections and breaking new ground are both key to Coke’s marketing. Mindful of its global reach, the brand is renowned for simple slogans that translate well around the world.
- Coca-Cola knows that being first to mind when someone wants a soft drink drives a huge part of its success. The brand leverages its distinctive brand assets effectively across all consumer touchpoints. To aid brand recognition, in 2015 the brand unified its packaging, including the logo, script, and ribbon on all variants, and integrating more of its iconic red into packaging.
The lesson is that refreshment is the key to long-term brand success. Brands that wish to emulate Coca-Cola’s longevity must innovate their offer so that they feel contemporary but without losing touch with their heritage.
Read more about the Kantar BrandZ Most Valuable Global Brands in the latest report, available at www.kantar.com/campaigns/brandz/global.
For an overarching view of brand performance, Kantar has launched a free interactive tool powered by BrandZ’s wealth of data and Meaningful Different Salient framework. Kantar BrandSnapshot delivers intelligence on 10,000 brands in 40+ markets, offering a quick read on a brand’s performance in a category. Explore for free on Kantar Marketplace today.