Everytime you think of soft drinks, two big names that come to your mind are Coca Cola and Pepsi and rightfully so, as both these brands have worked super hard to earn the prestige they have today. But, do you know how over the years these brands have worked against each other to emerge as the best6 soft drink brand? Their rivalry is very well known in the marketing world, and we will be discussing the same in this article.
Coca Cola aka Coke was established in the year 1886 in Atlanta by a pharmacist named Dr John S. Pemberton. 12 years later to this, Pepsi aka Pepsi Cola was established in the year 1898 by Caleb Bradham in North Carolina and that is where the struggle to surpass each other in the marketing efforts began. Both these brands worked hard and adapted a number of tactics to be the number 1 in the soft drink industry.
In the aspect of brand value, Coca Cola has always surpassed Pepsi. According to the recent statistics from Statista, Coca Cola was fifth in the list of the world’s most valuable brands with a brand value of 66.34 Billion US dollars, while Pepsi had the twenty-first position in the same list with a brand value of 20.8 Billion US dollar in the year 2018.
Over the years, both the companies have been in constant competition to be the no. 1 soft drink producer and they have both come a long way. Further, in this article, we are about to discuss comparatively how both the companies have evolved in their branding processes and emerged as two big soft drink companies in the 21st century. So we suggest you just sit back and relax and keep reading!!
Evolution of the logos
First thing first, we all know, a logo is the face of any brand and if we don’t talk about how the logos of both these companies evolved with time, this article would somehow be incomplete.
Both Coca Cola and Pepsi have changed their logos multiple times over the years. Though, the basic structure of the modern Coca Cola logo is very similar to their first logos launches in the 1900s while the modern Pepsi logo is almost unrecognizable from the old logos, it will still be unfair to say that Coca Cola logo hasn’t changed over the years.
The first ever logo of Coca Cola was introduced in the year 1986 and had a much simpler and formal font than what we see in their logo today. As the brand entered the 20th century, the brand logo was changed multiple times and the old formal font was given up to opt for much fun and easy font. Also, the iconic ribbon at the end of the first ‘C’ was also introduced into the logo during the same time.
Coca Cola’s logo largely remained the same till the 1950s when a new fishtail logo was introduced. The logo went along for about a decade and was later given up to adopt the new logo in the 1960s, much similar to the modern logo. Also, Coca Cola’s much recognized red and white colour combination was also introduced in the 1950s. In the 1960s logo, the wave was also introduced, which stayed around for quite a while and had become a major part of recognition for the brand.
This logo was kept the same for more than two decades until 1985 when Coca Cola introduced their product in a redefined way under the name of New Coke and changed their logo to more formal and simpler fonts. The consumers didn’t react very positively to this redefinition of the brand and the brand later decided to go back to their old logo only a couple of years later.
The logo of Coca Cola introduced in the year 1987 was strikingly similar to the logo introduced in the 1960s except that in this logo, the wave was reintroduced and the name was ‘Coca Cola Coke’. In the 1990s, moving with the times, the brand introduced the logo with a more gradient and gloss with a pattern of water droplets on it. This logo too didn’t stay long and was given up in the early years of the 21st century to introduce the Coca Cola Classic logo which is almost identical to the 1960s logo. The final logo was introduced by the brand in the year 2009 in their iconic red colour much similar to their 1940s logo.
Compared to Coca Cola, Pepsi went through more changes in their logo design and their final logo looks completely different than what they had started with. The first logo of Pepsi was introduced two years after Coca Cola, with the name Pepsi Cola and had a very strange font in red colour.
Similar to Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola too adapted the more fun fonts with the ribbon pattern in the same red colour. Minor changes were again made in the logo in the year 1906 after which it stayed the same for a long time, till the year 1940 and was again introduced with only a few changes to the older design.
It wasn’t till the year 1950, that the major changes in the logo design of Pepsi came, when the iconic blue, red and white colours of Pepsi were introduced as a mark of patriotism and respect to their motherland. This colour combination has ever since stayed in the brand logo of Pepsi. In 1950, the old logo was only put between the Blue and red stripes.
In the year 1962, the brand dropped the name Pepsi Cola for the soft drink and simply took up the name Pepsi and the old logo was redefined for the name Pepsi. Further minor changes occurred in the logo later in the year 1973 to reproduce the logo. In the year 1991, Pepsi took out the text from the circular symbol to create a much simpler logo design.
7 years later in 1998 Pepsi again changed their logo, adding more blue to it as they put their iconic circular logo and text over the blue background. Later in the year 2005, similar to what Coca Cola had done in the 1990s, Pepsi too added the gradient and gloss pattern of the droplets to their logo from 1998. Finally, in the year 2008, they opted to simplify their logo as they modified the circular logo and added the Pepsi text in the simpler font and thus was produced the new logo of Pepsi, by which we know it today.
Coca Cola’s television advertisements have been very clever and creative all these years. As a soft drink brand, unlike Pepsi, they didn’t only focus on teens and young adults but on all consumers of all age. Some of their popular television advertisements include the ‘Simpsons’ advertisement of Coca Cola or the advertisement featuring the family of polar bears, thus endorsing the warm feelings of togetherness and love.
Coca Cola comes out to look like a family-friendly brand.
The range of advertisements under Coca Cola India also portrays the same fact. A good example will be the 2003 ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ advertisement, starring Aamir Khan. This was one of Coca Cola’s most successful ad campaigns in India,
Coca Cola has featured Bollywood’s Mr Perfectionist, Aamir Khan in a number of creative advertisements. But besides him, you also get to see other young Bollywood celebrities like Alia Bhatt, Deepika Padukone, Diljit Dosanjh, etc in the ad campaigns of Coca Cola India. These celebrities are idols of the young people in the nation, thus helping the brand to endorse their product among young consumers. But, their other ad campaigns like the ‘Share a Coke’ ad campaign help target a wider range of audience, not just the young consumers but also mature adults in their midlife.
Concluding, we can say that Coca Cola always focused on the more emotional side of its consumers and has emerged as a fun and trustworthy brand.
Pepsi too has represented itself like a friendly brand just like Coca Cola, but they primarily focused on the teens and young adult consumers. Pepsi’s advertisements have been clever but have mostly featured young celebrities to impress their target audience. Some such celebrities include Micheal Jackson, Britney Spears, etc. Pepsi has also used Indian celebrities like Ranbir Kapoor & Priyanka Chopra and cricket stars like Virat Kohli & Harbhajan Singh in their advertisements to endorse their product.
Pepsi has been giving Coca Cola a competition in advertising for a long time. Just like the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ advertisement campaign, Pepsi too started a ‘Pepsi Thi Pee Gaya’ advertisement campaign. Pepsi has time and again done advertisements as an open challenge to Coca Cola. Take Pepsi’s ‘The Pepsi Challenge’ for an example. It started in the year 1975 and proved to be a huge hit for the company.
So, for ‘The Pepsi Challenge’, people were challenged to take a blindfold test, where they were made to taste two soft drinks one of which was Pepsi and the other was Coke. The participant didn’t know which one he drank first and was asked to choose the soft drink, whose taste he liked more. According to the brand, more than 50% of people liked the taste of Pepsi more than Coke. Now, you must notice that both the brands differ a lot when it comes to taste. Where Coca Cola has a fizzier and less sweet raisin vanilla taste, Pepsi has a less fizzy citrussy sweet kind of taste. Nevertheless, ‘The Pepsi Challenge’ proved a success for the brand.
Another instance will be the Pepsi’s Halloween advertisement of the year 2018, that featured a Pepsi can with a Coca Cola drape wishing a scary Halloween. There have been many such advertisements by Pepsi in a way to try and look better than Coca Cola.
So, we can say that Pepsi has appeared to be a more appealing brand for young consumers, but at the same time also tried desperately hard to look like a superior brand against Coca Cola.
Both Coca Cola and Pepsi sell their products in more than 200 countries, but when it comes to brand recognition, Coke trumps over Pepsi. Now, there are multiple aspects to this, one, for example, is that Coca Cola has won a kind of trust among its consumers, leading them to expect the same iconic flavour of Coke every single time. This consistency of flavour lets the brand appear trustworthy.
Another reason will be that Coca Cola has stuck to a single kind of patterns in its logos and designs. As we discussed earlier, even though Coca Cola has changed its logo nearly as many times as Pepsi, they have made only minor changes in the original design, essentially keeping the core design same. Pepsi, on the other hand, has gone through drastic changes in their logo design.
Another aspect that Coca Cola uses in its favour is the iconic shape of its bottles. If you would have noticed, all Coca Cola’s from the glass bottles to large plastic bottles, all have the same shape irrespective of the quantity of the soft drink. In fact, in the year 2015, they introduced aluminium bottles in a similar shape to celebrate 100 years of the soft drink. You can also see the shape of the bottle displayed at the end of some Coca Cola advertisements.
No matter where you are in the world you can easily recognize a coke bottle with its iconic shape and unique red and white colours. But, it doesn’t work quite the same way with Pepsi. The brand does a lot to increase its brand recognition, but since they primarily focus on young consumers they could not build much trust among the mature consumers.
But, Pepsi has also used creative initiatives like the Pepsi Refresh Project that had started in the year 2010 and has been continued ever since causing quite a stir among consumers. It has proved to be a very successful initiative for Pepsi and helped increase brand awareness for the brand. With this initiative, Pepsi helps people with new ideas in improving their community by giving them grants.
Both Coca Cola and Pepsi have worked hard over the years to build a strong brand presence among their consumers. Both work with different marketing strategies and different target audiences, but they have been in close competitions in the ‘soft drinks’ niche. Coca Cola may seem like a more successful brand than Pepsi, but Pepsi has also been improving itself over the years as a brand to prove like a tough competitor to Coca Cola.
If you want to know more about this iconic rivalry, you should definitely visit the following sites.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the Cola rivalry of two big brands, Coca Cola and Pepsi and how there branding has changed over the years. If you have any queries regarding the topic or any other topic regarding branding, we would be happy to answer them. All you need to do is put your questions in the comments section below.