Pepsi vs Coke Analysis

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  • 7/31/2019 Pepsi vs Coke Analysis


    Pepsi vs Coke: The Power of a Brand



    Today were going to jump into an age old rivalry between the two biggest soft drink companies on the planet

    and their flagship products: Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

    The main theme will be brand evolution. Well take a look at how both brands have changed over the years and

    which seems to have the better strategy.

    A Rivalry Born in Sugar

    For my entire life Ive understood the concept of brand rivalry because of two iconic companies: Pepsi and

    Coca-Cola. For as far back as I can remember (and much further) these two cola brands were slinging mud at

    each other. Heres a print ad from 1979 about the Pepsi Challenge which repeatedly pitted Coke against

    Pepsi in a blind taste test with Pepsi emerging as the victor.
  • 7/31/2019 Pepsi vs Coke Analysis


    As a customer, Ive never been quite able to decide which side Im on. The truth is that I like both colas and

    often go through periods of drinking one exclusively while imagining that I like it better only to try the other and

    realize that Ive been missing out. In fact, I like Fentimans Curiosity Cola better than either Coke or Pepsi, but I

    digress. The beauty of being a consumer is that I can enjoy both major brands and dont really have to conform

    to the theoretical ideas of brand loyalty discussed in marketing boardrooms.

    However, ever since I took an interest in design, Ive observed this rivalry from a new point of view: I constantly

    compare the design styles of Coca-Colas marketing to that ofPepsi. Unlike with taste, in this game I always

    see a clear winner. Before we see which it is, lets take a look at each brand individually, starting with Pepsi.

  • 7/31/2019 Pepsi vs Coke Analysis


    The Pepsi Brand

    The Pepsi soft drink was invented way back in 1898, a little over a decade after Coca-Cola came on the scene.

    Looking back, the very first iteration of the Pepsi logo was a little strange. It looks a bit like something Tim

    Burton would come up with:

    This version of the logo didnt last very long and the script slowly evolved into the friendlier version were now

    familiar with from this time period. By 1940, Pepsis image was looking very close to that of Coke, which had

    also been gradually evolving since around 1900.

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    The Pepsi Globe

    Around the early to mid 1940s, WWII sparked a little patriotism in the Pepsi Company and they began using the

    updated version of the script in conjunction with red and white ribbons to show pride in their beloved country.

    This marked the arrival of the Pepsi Globe, which would become Pepsis primary icon and remain very similar

    in concept long after the script died. That is until the big brand overhaul of 2008, but well get to that soon.

    Pepsi Logo EvolutionThe folks atBoredPanda.comcreated the following image that clearly shows how the Pepsi logo evolved from its

    inception to the current form that we know today.
  • 7/31/2019 Pepsi vs Coke Analysis


    As you can see, by 1962, the Pepsi Cola script was gone and in its place was a simpler font with a simple

    message: Pepsi. As with most popular brands at the time, the Pepsi logo starting becoming ornate in the late

    90s with subtle gradients that were made easier by advancing computer graphics software. By 2003, the Pepsi

    Globe was a glossy button with realistic highlights, shadows and water droplets. This form perfectly represents

    popular design styles of the early 2000s.

    Brand PersonalityPepsi has always had a young target audience. Many of their ads were historically targeted at teens and even

    pre-teens and are injected with fun, sports and most often, music. Pepsi has leveraged all manner of musical

    celebrities over the years, from Ray Charles to Britney Spears.

    Check out thisfantastic commercialI dug up on YouTube featuring Michael Jackson and a group of kids that are

    probably far too young to legally target for such a sugary product these days!
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    When Pepsi wasnt using musical celebrities, humor was their weapon of choice, again utilizing young kids in

    the ads. Who could forget the lovable little girl telling the bartender,I asked for a Pepsi Palin the voice of the


    2008: Pepsi Changes Everything

    In the evolution image above we saw Pepsi roll along with popular design trends as they introduced

    Photoshop-centric gradients, shadows and highlights. As with every good design trend, this was firmly rejected

    by the designers of the next decade.

    The design communitys eventual response was a full-throttle rebirth of minimalism. Every brand that made

    their logos look shinier in the late 90s suddenly hit command-z and started stripping their personalities through

    thin, sans-serif fonts and simple, solid colors. Even today we are still in this stage as brands like Gap,

    Tropicana and more seek new life through more generic looking designs, often with results so hated by

    consumers that the companies immediately revert to their old brand image.

    By now were all familiar with Pepsis foray into this trend. After decades of refining, they hit the Pepsi globe

    with the ugly stick, trashed the familiar bold typography and gave us this:
  • 7/31/2019 Pepsi vs Coke Analysis


    Years later I still cant muster up anything but disdain for this rebranding project. Call me old fashioned but I

    think Pepsi took a baseball bat to their brand heritage. Meanwhile, they made the e in Pepsi mirror the old

    logo! It might be an attempt at cleverness, but it seems indecisive. And dont get me started on Mtn Dew!

    Emotional brand ties aside, I simply dont see the logic behind this project. Keeping your image young and

    fresh is one thing, wasting millions of dollars to twist and smudge your iconic logo is another. I wasnt

    completely against Pepsi reverting to a simpler design, but they had a really strong and recognizable logo to

    revert to and Im not sure rethinking it so dramatically was either necessary or effective in any way.

    What makes this overhaul absolutely laughable is the explanation behind it from the Arnell Group. Shortly after

    the rebranding went public aPDF was leakedwhich is amazingly nonsensical in its attempt to be sophisticated.
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    Pepsi has since recovered from the publics hatred of their new brand simply by trudging on. The redesign of

    their entire line of drinks has stuck with the exception of Sierra Mist, whose strange foggy forest design has

    already been abandoned for anew lookthat is actually quite attractive by comparison.

    Meanwhile, Pepsis overall personality has stayed pretty much the same as they continue to primarily use

    humor and music in their advertising. This years Super Bowl featured several humorousPepsi Max

    commercialsandthe Pepsi websiteprominently features an index of emerging artists.

    The biggest brand goal change that took place with the rebranding project was thePepsi Refresh Project, which

    continues on today. Through this initiative Pepsi gives grants to people with great ideas for how to improve their

    community. Its an excellent project and a great direction for Pepsi. More and more, big companies are

    expected to use portions of their mountains of cash to make the world a better place and the Pepsi Refresh

    Project is doing exactly that.