I had the privilege of working on a project for Coca-Cola Credit Union last week. During my time on the Atlanta campus, I “geeked-out” in a branding mecca.

Google, “world’s most distinctive brands,” and Coca-Cola will most certainly be near the top of any list you find. Business Insider named Coke as #3 in their list of the 20 Most Valuable Brands.

What can you learn from Coca-Cola’s brand.


Coca-Cola is iconic. It is trusted. It is classic. Why? Because it is consistent.

Aside from the ill-advised New Coke in 1985, the Coke formula hasn’t changed since 1905, when they removed cocaine (yes, the urban myth is true).

You know what to expect from Coke. Every generation knows the same product.

Coincidently, the logo also has remained essentially unchanged since 1905.

History of Coke Logos

Compare that to the Pepsi logo that is significantly different from decade to decade. By evolving with the times, Pepsi may be considered the more “modern” brand, but it will never be seen as classic, and rarely makes the list of most iconic, distinguishable or valuable brands.

History of Pepsi Logos

Attention to Detail

My favorite lesson from last week’s trip to Coca-Cola concerned the bottle.

Since the formula has remained unchanged, most focus on the history of Coke centers on its bottle.

A Coke bottle needs no label. It is arguably the most iconic package in retail marketing history … here’s why.

In 1915, the Coca-Cola Bottling Association voted to spend $500 developing a recognizable bottle. They challenged eight glass companies to develop a:

“Bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feel in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”

Brocken Coke Bottle
Cocoa PodInteresting side note, the actual shape of the bottle was based on a mistaken assumption. The Root Glass Company wrongfully assumed that there was cocoa in the secret formula and used the cocoa pod as the inspiration for their entire design.
The world’s most iconic brand package was based off a wrong ingredient. Ask yourself, would your management team have shut the idea down once they heard the error? Would they have micro-managed this historic bottle into oblivion because of a missed detail?

Here is your challenge, my fellow brand geeks … What does your brand offer that is so distinctive, people would know it with their eyes closed … Unique enough, that if they experience just a small portion of what you do, they will know it’s you?

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