January 11, 2013

Horse 1425 - Retro Soft Drink

Coca-Cola have decided on a "new" marketing trend with retro labelling on Sprite, Fanta and rebranding Lift as Mello Yello for the summer. I think that this is a brilliant idea but with the proviso that they never ever go back to their "modern" designs.
With a product as interchangeable as fizzy sugared water, the only major difference between this and something that PepsiCo, Schweppes or a store own brand is precisely that, the branding on the outside of the package. Coca-Cola of all companies who built their reputation during WW2 by being everywhere, especially should have realised that having a strong brand is what wins sales in this business.
The Coca-Cola logo which appears in Spencerian Script remains practically unchanged since John Pemberton's bookkeeper, Frank Robinson, came up with it in 1885. Other companies which use a script type logo include Ford Motor Company who registered their script logo in 1909 and finally placed it in the blue oval in 1927, General Electric's swirly GE logo dates in its current form from about 1900.

If you keep a logo around for long enough, it becomes part of the furniture, part of the landscape and part of people's embedded unconsciousness. Sprite's logo on the left is a reimagining of the logo used from 1961-1970 and the Fanta logo dates nominally from 1970-1995. The point being that because they'd been around for so long, they build up a resonance with the public; hence why they still speak to consumers.
Logos like BP's shield, Pan-Am's blue globe, the Bell Telephone signs, the BOAC Speedbird and even British Leyland's swirly thing, continue to live in the memory well after those companies have passed on.

I have made the point before in Horse 1375 that to sell any given product or service in question, the graphics have to communicate a message effectively and more importantly, simply. These retro logos used on Sprite and Fanta also tap into something else, memory.
Behavioural psychologist BF Skinner wrote about the concept of positive reinforcement when it came to altering behaviour as early as 1961. Since the entire of advertising is about changing the behaviour of consumers so that they will purchase and continue to purchase your goods and services, positive brand reinforcement and especially through the process of familiarity is one reason why a retro package like these two pictured, works. It also explains why the Coca-Cola logo itself is still pretty much basically unchanged since 1885.
It is curious that the best argument that Coca-Cola should go back to using these retro designs forever comes from Coca-Cola. Let's hope they heed their own message.

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