New Coke, Old Coke, White Coke…Oh, No Coke

The Coca-Cola Company

The world witnessed the power of branding, thanks to the Coca-Cola Company, once again. Didn’t it learn its lesson with New Coke?

It was 26 years ago when the world’s largest beverage company changed its tried-and-true recipe, only to face epic consumer fallout. After only three weeks, the company scrapped New Coke and re-introduced Classic Coke.

Lesson Learned: Don’t mess with our Coke!

But how they soon forget.

This time, it wasn’t the recipe Coke changed; it was the color of the can—from red to white. Sounds innocent enough, right? Especially hearing it was part of a campaign to protect the Arctic habitats of polar bears.

But the change was met with consumer backlash, again. Not to the magnitude of New Coke, but enough to cause Coke execs to replace the white cans with the familiar red ones.  Coke lovers had several complaints:

1)      “The white can resembles Diet Coke.”—OK. I get that. Diet Coke die-hards felt duped when they bought one thing but got another.

2)      “It tastes different.”—This one’s interesting and underscores the power of branding and visuals. The recipe is the same, but sometimes our brains override our taste buds.

3)      “I want my can to be red.”—Enough said.

The execs at Coke listened because they realized they had a brand to protect.  Great brands create relationships and forge emotional connections.  And it all boils down to the simple fact that companies don’t own their brands, consumers do.

Coke is one of the most recognized brands in the world and it’s extremely lucky to have very loyal and very passionate consumers. Now listen to them. They’re screaming at you, loud and clear:  we love our Coke.. but only when it’s the real thing.

Lesson Learned 2.0

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One Response

  1. […] companies have received negative feedback when trying to change their image. Coca-Cola attempted to change its recipe and name to “New Coke”, but was faced with epic consumer fallout so it reverted to the original recipe and name three days […]

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