11 March 2015

Coke Experiments With New Universal Branding

Coca-Cola Spain is launching a new look that unites Coca-Cola, Coke Zero, Diet Coke, and Coke Zero Zero (caffeine-free Coke Zero) under one unifying design based upon Coca-Cola's iconic red packaging. From what we can make out in a translated FAQ, this new branding strategy should roll out globally later this summer.


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As the company explains in a roughly translated FAQ, "The new strategy of ‘single brand’ communication will also unify the various products: if before a different kind of advertising and merchandising [differentiated] the three sub-brands, now [we] see the Coca-Cola brand supporting all variants."


For Coca-Cola, this rebranding is nothing short of seismic. Ever since Diet Coke launched in 1982, it has been branded as a reversal of the Coca-Cola flagship (the branding of which was solidified in 1969). Coke was red with a white ribbon and white lettering. Diet Coke was was white (then later, silver) with red lettering. Coke Zero was black with red lettering. Each spinoff was recognizable in its own right.


Now, as sugary Coke sales slow, and fake-sugary Coke sales plummet, it looks like the company wants to consolidate the troops under one red banner, to make every can of Coke-stuff scream "Merry Christmas!" like it’s 1969 all over again. Add in a splash of silver, black, and copper to distinguish the alchemy of sweetness inside, and watch those sales pour in through one giant, red funnel.


Well, maybe. It's still unclear if this is a universal strategy, or if Coca-Cola is dipping its toe in Spain to test the waters before going global with it. Hell, Coca-Cola might even abandon the unification idea entirely. We've reached out to Coca-Cola Spain for clarification and we'll update the story if and when we hear back.


Update: We spoke to a Coca-Cola spokesperson who clarified that Spain is one of 11 European pilot markets (along with the US) testing various new packaging designs to tackle Coke's branding theme toward unification. Notably, Spain is the only market in the bunch that's testing Coca-Cola red across all Coke products, while other markets have unified the brand via the core Coca-Cola word mark and the ribbon. Below, we've pasted a shot of how this unification is being piloted in the US. 


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