Ben Wise on Branding

Watching the world through the lens of the brand

Posts Tagged ‘Pepsi

New Coke and Brand Failures

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ABC News kindly pointed out that today is the 25th birthday of New Coke, one of the biggest brand failures of all time. To mark this occasion, I wanted to share a few other big brand failures of interest.

Crystal Pepsi: In 1992 Pepsi launched a clear-coloured cola called Crystal Pepsi. This was the same time that bottled water was gaining popularity and Pepsi wanted to capitalize on the market desire for ‘purity’. This brand was taken off the market within a year. Sometimes when there is a gap in the market, it is because there is simply no demand for it.

Virgin Cola: Virgin has enjoyed a lot of success through brand extensions, but the move into cola was a flop for Richard Branson and company. The Virgin brand was about irreverence, which was compelling in categories where the big guys were complacent. The rivalry between Coke and Pepsi made sure this category was competitive so Virgin wasn’t able to offer anything unique, giving consumer no compelling reason to try the new product.

Harley Davidson Perfume: Harley Davidson is able to command brand loyalty that most of us can only dream of. What other brand logos do you find tattooed onto people? But their attempt to move into perfume in the ‘90s was a mistake – a classic example of a brand extension in a category where there is clearly no fit with the core brand.

KFC in Hong Kong: The literal translation of the famous KFC tag line, ‘Finger Licking Good’, into Chinese, is ‘Eat Your Fingers Off’. I don’t think I need to explain why this one didn’t work!

Kodak: Kodak had for decades been the leader in photography. Whether you think they got complacent with the rise of digital or they didn’t pursue it for fear of cannibalizing their sales, the result was that they missed the boat. Great brands need to constantly innovate to meet evolving consumer needs and stay relevant or risk being left behind.

What do you think? Any other big brand failures come to mind?


Written by benwisebranding

April 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Underdog Brands

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People are naturally attracted to the underdog. The story of the little guy that beat the odds gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. In a brand context, this is no different. A brand that is well positioned as the underdog can use this as a powerful marketing tool to gain consumer loyalty.

Here are a few quick examples:

  • Pepsi is the underdog to Coke and used this to effectively capture the youth market
  • Adidas is the underdog to Nike and has grown their brand considerably in the past decade
  • Apple is the underdog to Microsoft/Nokia/HP (and more) and has become one of the most powerful brands on the planet

What do all of these brands have in common?

A key part of playing the underdog role is a sense of irreverence towards the bigger guys. Don’t try to copy what your competitors are doing, find an exciting, scrappy way to win then flaunt it as much as possible.

Second, if you look at the above list of underdogs, they are all seen as cool and rebellious. There is a social status aspect for consumers who buy and use these brands.

Finally, all of the underdog brands promote emotional benefits, not functional ones. This allows them to develop consumers that are much more loyal to their brand. People feel very strongly about supporting the underdog and are going to try to convince others to do so as well – even once the ‘little guy’ has become a behemoth, as with all of the above examples.

What do you think? What other brands play the role of the underdog?

Written by benwisebranding

April 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm

Pepsi Brand Chases the Health Conscious

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It is no secret that consumers are moving toward healthier lifestyles (or at least trying to!). In light of this change, brands have to evolve their positioning to meet the new realities of the market. Pepsi is taking a big step in this direction.

Last week, Pepsi announced that they will be removing their sugary beverages from schools worldwide. Pepsi is clearly placing a bet that the loss of sales will be outweighed by the value it brings to their brand. This is a pretty safe bet for three reasons:.

  1. First Mover Advantage
  2. Compared to Coke, Less of Pepsi’s Brand Portfolio is Soft Drinks
  3. Already Out of US Schools

First Mover Advantage:

In their never-ending battle with Coke, it can be hard to find meaningful differentiation. Being the first of the two to take a global stance gives the Pepsi brand an association with being a responsible corporation. Even if Coke follows suit, it will be viewed as much less genuine without the first mover advantage.

Compared to Coke, Less of Pepsi’s Brand Portfolio is Soft Drinks:

Pepsi’s portfolio of brands is much more diversified than that of Coke. Obtaining an association to their brand of childhood health can be leveraged across their entire portfolio. This gives this position much more value to Pepsi than it would to Coke.

Already Out of US Schools:

In 2006, both Pepsi and Coke agreed to stop selling sugary drinks in US schools. Any loss of sales from this move will therefore not impact their biggest market. While it will impact some of the fastest growing markets (ie China), they are less reliant on soft drinks than the US. Again, the benefits from the move will still occur in the US without any change to their US operations.

What do you think? Can Pepsi credibly associate their brand with being healthy?

Written by benwisebranding

March 22, 2010 at 8:46 pm