Brand identity vs Brand image. How Coca-Cola developed its brand identity.
Updated: Jun 7, 2022
People remember well some brands. Wake them up at night and they can easily tell you what jingle McDonalds has or what colors are used by Ikea or what logo iPhones have on the back. These are all cases of strong and memorable brand identities.
Brand identity is a set of recognizable elements of a brand that identify and distinguish the brand in consumers' minds.
Brand identity elements include:
To see how elements of brand identity work together and create a unique brand, I decided to analyze a Coca-Cola ad. I have chosen one of Coca Cola´s most successful commercials that was released in 1971. During that time USA was fighting a war in Vietnam, causing a lot of anti-war movements and riots in Europe and USA.
Main brand identity elements.
The first brand element that I noticed in the Coca-Cola video ad was a brand name: a young man was singing and holding a glass bottle with the word “Coke” on it at 0:25. At that moment I had to google to find out the difference between Coke and Coca Cola. Apparently, Coke is a nickname, and at some point in the past the company was not happy that consumers used to call the drink Coke instead of Coca Cola; but gradually they adopted the nickname and even included it into their advertising.
When the camera was moving to show singing people, they all held bottles where a brand’s logo could be seen. It was interesting that some bottles had the text written in other languages. I noticed Arabic, some African and Asian languages. In English, the logo includes the words “Coca Cola” written in white in the brand’s easily recognizable font. As for graphics, the logo has ribbons which flow on the top and bottom of the text.
What connects all those bottles is their unique shape. The Coca Cola bottle has a distinct, easily-recognizable form and is made of glass. I cannot remember any other brand that has a similar bottle. It is a differentiating feature of the brand.
The dominant colors of the ad could be easily observed when the camera goes up and we see the entire picture from above. It is white and red: white was used on the bottle and clothing; red – mostly on clothes. However, I also noticed a lot of yellow: the whole video is filled with the sunshine.
Speaking about the sound, in the video people are singing a song which is “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”. The phrase “It’s a real thing” is repeated several times. So, I can conclude that this is the brand’s theme line. After watching the ad, I can say that the melody is nice and the words are catchy. I kept singing it the whole day.
I could not find anything related to movement, smell or taste in the ad.
Additional brand identity elements.
In the commercial I have also noticed various visible or audible elements that are not among the listed brand identity elements. The purpose with these elements is to create associations to something.
First, I can mention the timing. It is about 1 min. which is optimal to watch the ad till the end. Besides, as it was made to be shown on TV where every second cost a lot for brands during those times.
I also liked the filming method. They started from very close portraits of different people and the camera focused on each person. But closer to the end I could see only the whole picture without any details – a group of people with a Coke in their hands. I think that it helps to position Coca Cola as a brand that can unite people that are very different, but all have something in common – their love for the drink.
I noticed that the people that took part in the video are mostly young people. Some wear casual clothes, while some are in national costumes. They represent different countries and cultures. So, it might mean that the brand targeted young people from all over the world. And as it was filmed during the Vietnam War, Coca Cola could speak up to all nations with the message to stop wars and unite and live happily together.
Brand identity vs Brand image.
Brand identity is often mixed with brand image. But there is a clear distinction between them.
Brand image is the set of beliefs, ideas, and impression that a person holds regarding an object.
The brand image located in the customers´ mind is affected not only by the elements created by the marketer, but also by the customers´ experience of the product and the company, the customers´ attitudes, the perception of other people etc.
When I watched the Coca-Cola commercial, I had a feeling of equality, happiness and friendship.
Seeing so many different people in the ad created a feeling of equality. Any person no matter where they come from, what language they speak, how they look can enjoy Coca Cola.
People in the ad were happily singing while holding a bottle of Coke in their hands. They were all smiling, their eyes were filled with joy and happiness. The place where they gathered was beautiful. And it was a wonderful sunny day. So, the ad created a feeling of happiness in me.
Moreover, after watching the ad, I had a feeling that all those people were some students that gathered for a picnic in a beautiful place. They all came from different countries but spoke the same language and had similar interests. They were young and beautiful. Besides, the song was like one that people usually sing together.
I think Coca Cola did a great job when they created this commercial. They used their brand identity elements skillfully and created a young, fun and friendly atmosphere in the video. And it corresponds to the feelings that I got after watching the advertisement. I can conclude that the Coca Cola identity corresponds to the image consumers might have about the brand.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found my writing interesting and useful for you. If you want to connect and discuss anything with me, reach out via the contact page.