How brands become icons – Coca Cola

Brand message: Open Happiness

Execution: This video.

…Iconic brands have been guided by a set of tacit strategic principles that I call the cultural branding model. These principles differ entirely from those advanced by conventional branding schemes. In fact, cultural branding upends many verities by which managers have sworn for decades. To learn how cultural branding works requires setting aside conventional thinking and developing a new mind-set…
+ D.B. Holt, How Brands Become Icons: The Principles of Cultural Branding

In his book How Brands Become Icons, Holt describes cultural branding as one that speaks to society intimately, addressing their cultural fears, anxieties, and contradictions. Entirely different from conventional branding philosophies, cultural branding is what makes brands become icons.

Throughout the 40s to early 90s, Coca-cola advertising in the US has exemplified cultural branding. Two examples that can be found in Holt’s case study are:

World War II

Coca-cola shipped coke to troops while celebrating the war efforts in print ads.

Vietnam War

Television comercial of multi-national youth singing upon a hilltop about peace.

While Coca-cola has failed to connect with its North American audience in the same way it has in the past, it has hit the mark in India and Pakistan, two countries with a long history of animosity and conflict. Coca-cola’s brilliant experiential marketing initiative bridges the peace gap with its beverage and message:

Open Happiness.