Coke vs. Pepsi

By Jamie Turner, Chief Content Officer, The 60 Second Marketer


Key Concepts:

1. According to Interbrand's annual report, Coca-Cola is a more valuable brand than Pepsi.

2. The reason for that is because Coca-Cola's brand imagery is more deeply-rooted than Pepsi's.







Every year, Interbrand releases its annual report on the most valuable brands from around the globe. The brands that make the list are all from the world's most successful organizations -- Microsoft, GE, IBM, Pepsi, Starbucks, Apple.

You get the idea.

Over the past several years, the brand at the top of the list has been Coca-Cola. That's not surprising, given the amount of effort and money they put into creating that brand.

What is surprising, though, is where Pepsi comes in.

They're not #2. They're not #5. They're not even in the top 10. Heck, they're not even in the top 20.

Pepsi comes in as the 26th most valuable brand in the world. Which is really surprising given that they spend just about as much money on branding as Coke and sell just about as much product, too.

But there's a key difference and it all has to do with each brand's essence.

Here's a test -- what are the words the come to mind when you think about Coca-Cola?

How about these:

• America

• Santa Clause

• Polar Bears

• World War II

• History

• Family

• "I'd like to teach the world to sing"

• Mean Joe Green

In other words, the brand essence for Coca-Cola has to do with things Americans hold close to their hearts. Coca-Cola has a brand appeal that taps into some of our most deeply-rooted emotions.

Now, do the same for Pepsi. What words do you come up with?

• Britney Spears

• Michael Jackson

• Youth

• The Choice of a New Generation

• Madonna

• CoolFun

• Energy

As you can see, the Pepsi brand essence isn't as deeply-rooted as Coca-Cola's. It's based on what's new, what's hot and what's trendy.

Why did this happen? Several decades ago, Pepsi decided that adults' brand loyalty for Coca-Cola was too well-entrenched to change their preferences. So they decided to focus on the youth market. The idea was to spend their time, money and energy appealing to a younger market who, eventually, would replace the more mature Coke drinkers.

To be honest, it was a brilliant strategy. If you can't win the game that's being played, change the rules. And that's what Pepsi did.

The problem was that by focusing on youth, Coca-Cola got to keep the brand values it already had. And those brand values are things that are deeply ingrained in the American psyche.

I mean, c'mon. Coca-Cola owns "Santa Clause" and "America." How much better could it get?

All this isn't to say that Pepsi's strategy is wrong or is a lost cause. On the contrary -- Pepsi has won plenty of battles and has been keeping The Coca-Cola Company on it's toes for decades. Just check out what Pepsi did with Gatorade, Aquafina and the non-carbonated beverage category. Great work.

But when you ask yourself "Why is Coke a more valuable brand than Pepsi?*" all you have to do is look at the deeply-rooted brand essence of Coca-Cola to find the answer.


Jamie Turner is the founder of, an online magazine that provides tips and techniques for marketers around the globe. He is a regular guest on CNN and HLN on the topic of social media and mobile marketing. And he is the author of "How to Make Money with Social Media" and "Go Mobile."

He currently consults with businesses interested in using new marketing tools to grow sales and revenues, and he is an in-demand keynote speaker at events, trade shows and corporations around the globe.



*According to Interbrand.

Coke vs. Pepsi: Why Coke is a More Valuable Brand than Pepsi.

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