The secret recipe for brand longevity?

Bryce Michelmore
March 27, 2014

Following on from my recent post about Mexican Coke and the brand loyalty it commands from a select group of ardent admirers, I was also fascinated to read recently how Coca Cola is actually bucking the trend of a shrinking soft drink market.

Coca-Cola Sign-medium

Despite soft drink sales declining globally as consumers opt for healthier choices, Coke has managed to grow, albeit slightly, in this tough market. Some business pundits argue that it is their decades-old ‘secret recipe’ marketing strategy that is keeping Coke in profit.

Is this a case of mystery being interpreted as quality? It does seem that cloak-and-dagger stories can add perceived value to a product.

In Coke’s case, their secret recipe was only committed to paper in 1919, despite originally being brewed up in 1866. It is now locked away inside a Mission Impossible-style purpose-built vault (complete with palm scanner and numerical code pad). This steel vault is housed in the company’s museum in Atlanta and even features theatrical effects like red lighting and fake smoke!

Interestingly, the recipe has never been patented, as this would require a disclosure of the ingredients – and once the patent expired, competitors would be free to create a generic version.

But the intrigue doesn’t end there. Did you realise that only two Coke executives can know the formula at any one time – and they are not allowed to travel on the same plane? This truly is the stuff of Hollywood film scripts…

Whether or not all this contrivance is necessary, it’s an intriguing example of a brand that has crafted a good story.

Bryce Michelmore is an Account Manager at Wellmark.

We regularly tweet about topics relating to brand strategy and marketing communications. Follow the Twitter feed most relevant to your business: @wellmark_corp (corporate communications and annual report design), @wellmark_health (healthcare communications and pharma marketing) and @wellmark_psf (online branding and thought leadership for professional services firms).

Photo credit: ‘Coca-Cola sign at Kings Cross’ courtesy of Dan Taylor, available from Flickr Creative Commons under a CC BY-2.0 licence.

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