On May 8, 2011, Coca-Cola, Interbrand’s number one Best Global Brand will turn 125. Its brand journey has been a long and ever-evolving one – from its beginnings with a secret ingredient that made it different, to becoming the ubiquitous brand known for being accessible everywhere, to its focus on authenticity in the face of new competition, to owning refreshment, and now its current ownership of “happiness” and full evolution into a lifestyle brand.
Unlike others in its category, Coca-Cola has moved beyond time and location to become a brand to be experienced all the time and anyplace. It has transcended its origins of "Made in the USA" to become a true world brand.
Additionally, while a brand like Guinness, for example, continues to be linked to patriotism, and Bacardi to an island occasion drink, Coca-Cola has succeeded in flexing its seasonality and relevance. It can be enjoyed in the winter (see its successful Christmas campaigns) and it can also be enjoyed in the summer (see its compelling summer campaigns, year after year). It can also enjoyed as much at the World Cup as at The American Music Awards.
At the same time, however, Coca-Cola never seems dull – and this, indeed, may be one of its greatest strengths. It is consistent all over the globe, and yet it is different everywhere, with labels tweaked just slightly depending on the market. As a result, it feels as though it is always moving and always living.
A large part of this is due to the richness of its visual vocabulary. The script, red color, the wave symbol, and even the ribs on its original bottle shape (which were originally inspired by the ribs on cocoa nuts) have all been with the brand for 125 years. And yet, Coca-Cola manages to constantly reinvent each, evolving them to fit the moment.
All in all, this is no easy feat – and it is something that all brands should aspire to. So, Coca-Cola, I salute you! Happy 125th and may you have many more to come.