The bold red script with its gentle curves. You recognize that logo right away. Even if you don’t drink Coke.

A logo is often what consumers first experience when they encounter a brand. That visual identity has the potential to make or break the relationship with a customer. But ultimately, the secret to a great brand is building on that relationship by creating experiences that matter to the customer. Here in part two of our five-part series on iconic brands and brilliant experiences, we’re taking a closer look at Coca-Cola. 

What can we learn from a brand and logo that have been around since 1887 when John S. Pemberton, a pharmacist, created his new drink? He shared it with his partner and bookkeeper, Frank M. Robinson who suggested the name Coca-Cola thinking the two Cs would look good in advertising.

Based on his own cursive, Robinson created a unique font treatment using the Spencerian script, and an iconic logo was born. This elegant penmanship was a common for that era and is still a classic to customers 127 years later. Attempts to change the cursive font haven’t done well in the past, most notably when the company introduced the block lettered Coke, which was later adapted successfully for the Diet Coke logo.

More than a logo

When it came to branding, Coca-Cola didn’t stop at a classic logo: It created an iconic bottle. The curved glass bottle was developed in response to the company’s direction: Design a bottle that will be recognizable even in the dark.

By the early 1900s, Coca-Cola had developed an ability to weave the brand into the social tapestry of life. From pitching itself as the perfect replacement for alcohol during prohibition, to teaching the world to sing during the turbulent 60s-70s, Coca-Cola has created brand experiences that are relevant to the times–and consumers. Over the years, the company has been recognized and awarded for producing culturally-relevant advertising with a clear social position.

In recent years, the popularity of Coca-Cola has been challenged by competitors, changing consumer trends, and greater awareness of health issues. But the legendary brand remains a cultural icon worldwide. Its latest campaign – "Share a Coke" – demonstrates how brilliantly the company holds on to its premier spot in our lives. In fact, Coca-Cola is the second most widely-understood term in the world, right after the word OK.

Branding Lessons Learned

Stay true to your brand. Be a social experience.

Coca-Cola is a legendary brand that still rises above its competition today. Beyond the iconic red, the cursive type, the bottle shape, and even the polar bears, the company has established a relationship with the broader culture of its customers. Coca-Cola has managed and built its brand with attention and careful deliberation and, no doubt, will continue to do the same in the future.

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