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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5 Reasons Successful Branding is Important

Branding clearly delivers your message. Branding emotionally connects your target audience with what you offer. Branding motivates your audience to create a connection. Branding reinforces your credibility. Branding creates loyalty. Bonus – Branding helps you stand out in a crowd.

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Color Psychology

Color psychology is the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior. Colors can cause certain emotional reactions, and even influence perceptions that are not necessarily conscious. Color psychology is used all around us, taking its cues from nature, and should be considered in marketing and branding. The following are just some common color…

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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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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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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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5 Ways a Well-Built Brand Makes Your Company Money

When you’ve built a brand, it makes it easier for your target audiences to notice you and recognize you. Amidst all the loud marketing, a strong brand allows a customer to clearly see what your business is and why your offerings matter to them. This makes it more compelling and more likely they will patronize…

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Typefaces & Fonts Do More Than Transmit Words

Do the typefaces and fonts you choose for your brand materials matter? As long as it’s in a language the audience understands, they’ll get the intended message, right? Wrong. Typefaces and fonts are essentially the shapes of the letters. Shapes are multi-sensory, meaning they affect more than one of your senses and can easily elicit…

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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…