Coke or Pepsi? In blind taste tests scientists have concluded that most of us can’t tell the difference. But you know which one you prefer, don’t you?

The power of branding

In an interesting variation on the Pepsi Challenge, researchers strapped people into MRIs and had them taste two drinks: one clearly labeled “Coke” and the other an unlabeled competitor. Time and again Coke was the preferred choice, but the kicker is that both drinks were Coke.

Given branding information, the consumer’s perception of the product changed, and the MRI revealed why. When tasting the clearly labeled Coke, parts of the brain lit up that are associated with memory and nostalgia. The brand was triggering an emotional reaction. Much like it did back in 1985…

Remember “New Coke”?

New Coke is often cited as one of marketing’s greatest blunders. When Coca-Cola tried to win the cola wars by reformulating their flagship soda, the public had a visceral reaction. It took less than three months for Coca-Cola “Classic” to returned to store shelves.

But what happened wasn’t a matter of people not liking New Coke. In taste tests before and after its release people really did prefer the sweeter flavor of New Coke. But something happened amongst those who felt betrayed by Coke–which was no longer “the real thing.” This very vocal minority revolted against the new formulation and succeeded in getting the corporate giant to backpedal.

(Read more about New Coke)

The emotional side of branding

Coke’s brand isn’t about quenching thirst, it’s about making the world a better place. It’s “A Coke and a Smile.” It’s buying the world a Coke and keeping it company. It’s playful polar bears and cute little penguins.

Hell, Coke is even (somewhat inaccurately) credited with giving us the modern incarnation of Santa Clause. Coke’s brand invokes warm, nostalgic feelings that successfully convince us that Coke, in fact, tastes better.

How do people feel about your brand?

Coke has had 120 years to perfect its brand and they back it up with a billion dollars of advertising each year. If Coke is spending that much to promote an internationally recognized, century+ old brand… what about you and your company?

It’s up to you to define and communicate to your customers what your brand stands for. Your mission is to create an emotional connection with your customers. Because, as the above examples demonstrate, that emotional connection is a powerful motivator that will win you more sales.

If you want your customers to choose you, you must communicate on an emotional level. I help you do just that. Contact me today for a free consultation.