Sub-brands architecture and paradigm change
Coca-Cola Life (CC Life), Coca-Cola Zero (CC Zero) and Diet Coke (or CC Light, depending on the country) were launched in a very different world from today’s. in day. The consensus at the time was that new products were favored by having their own voices. By creating a sub-brand for each product, Coca-Cola could create a variety of value proposition that would appeal to different target audiences. Coca-Cola Life was the low-calorie Stevia version intended for those interested in natural products, Diet Coke was the calorie-free and sugar-free version for those who wanted to take care of their diet, and CC Zero was the original flavor, but sugar-free and calorie-free.
However, about 10 years ago, when the masterbrand architecture strategy was first devised, the company was facing a number of problems:
1. Confusion about the sub-brands value propositions
The public didn’t fully understand the value propositions of the sub-brands. In particular, the biggest problem was that the difference between Diet Coke and CC Zero was not clear. In the words of Bobby Brittain (Head of Marketing at the time), “we (Coca-Cola) are not getting as much growth as we could given there’s this fundamental lack of understanding about what’s going into these products”.
2. The “war on sugar” was impossible to win
Public opinion about sugar had been strongly transformed. Coca-Cola’s reputation was being severely damaged by campaigns against childhood obesity and regulations around the world that forced warnings to be printed on products with high sugar content. In this regard, Bobby Brittain words anticipate the company’s solution: “When people think about Coca-Cola now there is an immediate jump to the product with sugar in it. Our ambition is that over time when people think of Coca-Cola they think about the choice that is available to them under that”.
3. Contact-points with the audience grew exponentially
The explosion of digital marketing, social networks and mobile phones abruptly multiplied brands’ communication channels. For Coca-Cola, this meant not only more spending but also a much more complicated internal structure. An increase in brand managers, multiple campaigns running simultaneously for each sub-brand, a horde of community managers for social networks, content creation specifically designed for Facebook, Instagram and Twitter… The marketing department was increasingly saturated and consuming more and more resources.