Coca-Cola Adopts One-Brand Strategy in Europe and the US to Clear Up Confusion

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The Coca-Cola Company spends a lot of time, energy and money marketing its many different brands.

The company, however, is taking a different tack in the UK and put all of its Coca-Cola products—Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero and Coke Life—into a unified brand architecture to clean up any confusion in the marketplace—especially around its beverage brands with reduced sugar and calories. (Update: The universal branding also launched today in Spain and is coming to 11 other countries including the US, as noted below.)

The rationale: Commissioned research showed that UK consumers do not fully understand the difference between the four brands, with five percent having no idea that Coca-Cola has no sugar or calories, for example.

Now, by putting them all under the Coca-Cola name, the global beverage giant hopes to differentiate them on the actual packaging.[more]

The branding on all cans will be the same, but distinct coloring will help distinguish the varieties as the old logos move from vertical to horizontal.

Each can also features descriptive text to differentiate it from the others, while maintaining the colors from the current versions: Red (Classic). Green (Life; low-cal). Black (Zero cal, some sugar). Silver (Diet Coke; Zero cal, zero sugar).

Starting in May, all Coca-Cola advertising and messaging in the UK will feature the four brands, reports Marketing Magazine. The new campaign, which will shift the brand’s tagline from “Open happiness” to “Choose happiness,” will be showcased this fall at the Coke brand sponsored Rugby World Cup

“By focusing on building one brand and extending the appeal of the original Coca‑Cola across our lower- and no-sugar variants, we believe we can drive sustainable growth for our business in Great Britain in the years ahead,” stated Jon Woods, General Manager of Coca‑Cola Great Britain & Ireland.

Update: It turns out it’s not just the UK that’s getting a rebrand. Coca-Cola Spain today unveiled a similar vertical-to-horizontal master brand realignments today, as noted by Brandemia (and brandchannel reader Oscar Peláez), as you can see below.

According to Bloomberg, the UK brand refresh is stretching across Europe with the notable exception of Spain: “the new cans and bottles have started to hit store shelves now in 12 European countries, while two of the designs (for Coca-Cola and Coke Zero) are being distributed across the US.”

Spain, meanwhile, is adopting its own “separate design using the Coca-Cola logo, the color red and the traditional white ribbon for the top two-thirds of the can, while the bottom third makes use of each brand’s usual color.”

Ireland’s The Independent newspaper notes that the change will be the equivalent of Coke doubling the marketing dollars for its low- and no-calorie drinks.

UK consumers have responded well to a new color-coded nutrition labeling system introduced last year, which has further convinced Coke that its British customers will welcome its unified branding.

As Coca-Cola Great Britain’s press release on the move notes, the rebranding follows its health moves in the market. This one brand strategy also builds on Coca‑Cola’s commitment to contribute to healthier and happier communities.

Recent actions Coca‑Cola Great Britain has taken in this area include:

• Since 2012 CCGB has reduced the average calories per litre in its range of sparkling drinks by 5.3 per cent. CCGB has invested £15 million in reformulation, including reducing the calorie and sugar content of Sprite, Dr Pepper and Fanta Fruit Twist by more than 30% between 2012 and 2014.

• In August 2014 CCGB introduced new Coca‑Cola Life – made with a blend of sugar and stevia leaf extract, containing a third less sugar and a third fewer calories than Coca‑Cola. 

• In September 2014 CCGB announced it would be adopting the UK Government’s front-of-pack labelling scheme – combining Reference Intakes with red, amber and green colour coding – on its products.

•In 2013 CCGB introduced new 250ml cans for Coca‑Cola, Diet Coke and Coca‑Cola Zero which are available across the UK and in 2014 we increased distribution into more than 4,300 new stores (13,655 in total) and grew sales by 23%.

• In 2014, the company committed to spend £20 million on local programmes to help get one million Britons active by 2020 – its biggest commitment to active lifestyle projects to date.

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