How Decades of Solid Branding Saved Coca-Cola from the Pepsi Challenge

The Pepsi Challenge was a marketing campaign started in 1975. It was simply a blind taste test between Pepsi and Coca-Cola, touting that even Coca-Cola fans choose Pepsi. It was a wildly successful marketing strategy that they revisited for decades. Coca-Cola even ran their own private tastes test, through which they found Pepsi was indeed chosen over half of the time, and panicked. They briefly released New Coke in 1985, a formula more similar to Pepsi’s cola. This initiative turned out to be one of the biggest failures in established branding history. Coca-Cola consumers were wildly disappointed. Miraculously, despite Coca-Cola’s snafu, and Pepsi’s increased market share, Coca-Cola remained number one in the soda game, and still reigns today.

In 2004, Baylor College of Medicine performed a version of the Pepsi Challenge with subjects hooked up to a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The results were interesting. In blind taste tests, most people preferred Pepsi, just like the Pepsi Challenge. The Pepsi drinks lit up activity in an area of the brain known as the ventral putamen, which helps us evaluate different flavors. It would seem that Pepsi does taste better! However, when the subjects were told which beverage they were sampling before they tasted it, they decided Coca-Cola tasted better. The fMRI scans showed the sips of Coca-Cola increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex. This part of the brain is more involved in decision making. When the subjects knew they were drinking Coca-Cola, they weren’t simply evaluating flavor, they were considering memories and experiences. The study’s conclusion was that this prefrontal activity was associating the soda with the brand, in effect, overriding the taste buds. When choosing Coca-Cola, consumers are choosing the brand they know and love. Building a successful brand is more than a good product, it’s building a comprehensive experience.

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Avoid These 6 Branding Mistakes

Not getting the logo right. Designing a logo yourself (just for now) may seem like a good idea, at first. But, changing a logo mid-stream can be complicated. If you aren’t widely recognized, you could lose what brand equity you may have already established. If you are, you could confuse, alienate and ultimately lose your…

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Comical Global Branding Fails

Even the biggest brands can make mistakes when bringing their brand to new markets. A company should always carefully research and identify any cultural differences, or language translations, when expanding their business. You want to catch any possible missteps before they happen. Here are some epic fails for a good laugh. Coca-Cola When first launched…

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What is Branding?

Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes and minds. It’s your “what”, your “how”, and your “why”. Your description of what you offer, the colors associated with your business, your visual identity, your website, your advertising, your collateral and your social media presence—these are all…

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6 Benefits of Choosing a Local Agency

A local agency will understand the local market. Remember those global branding fails? The large corporations launching those campaigns did not understand the market they were advertising to. When working with a local agency, you won’t have any time zone differences to worry about. Everyone is on the same page, the same schedule! A local…

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The Difference Between Graphic Art and Graphic Design

Graphic Art – the fine and applied art of representation, decoration, and writing or printing on flat surfaces together with the techniques and crafts associated with them. Essentially, a graphic artist may create art for the sake of art. They may want to convey a certain idea or story, or they may not. Graphic artists…

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How Good Branding Saves Your Company Money

Many businesses make the mistake of throwing money at marketing without thinking enough about their brand, as a whole. Paid media campaigns might garner attention, but they can’t necessarily retain it and convert as many customers without solid branding. A company with a consistent, strong perception amongst audiences will always outperform competitors with the same…

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What is Brand Consistency and Why is it Important?

Brand consistency means always delivering messages aligned with the core brand values in the same tone, presenting the brand’s visual language in a consistent way, and repeating the same colors throughout the cohesive brand experience. Over time, these elements become ingrained in the minds of consumers, and they’re more likely to remember your brand. Brand…

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Why Colors Matter

When choosing colors for your brand, there is a lot to consider. Certain colors are often associated with certain traits or even expectations the public may have as it relates to what your organization offers. These associations can bridge the gap between your branding materials and target audiences. Just because your favorite color is fluorescent…