The Social Rebranding of Pepsi


Pepsi logo circa 1979(ish).

Pepsi logo circa 1979(ish).

(Full disclosure, being from the South, I am a Coke fan myself, but don’t let that deter you from reading the post.)

The team at the #2 soft drink maker, Pepsi, has begun a (apparently massive) re-branding campaign for the entire product line.  Providing us a fantastic case study on not only re-branding and what that truly means, but also a look at how a major corporation is using social media to help shape the future of their brand and company.

First, the branding aspect, courtesy of one of our favorite bloggers, Seth Godin.  Seth’s basic argument is that testing a new brand via logo or packaging design is meaningless because the brand is the story, not the logo:

I guess the punchline is: take the time and money and effort you’d put into an expensive logo and put them into creating a product and experience and story that people remember instead.

This quote from the comments section sums it up pretty nicely:

Seth has got it right, the logo is not the brand; the story is the brand…

Quite a profound way of looking at the brand.  I am sure this is a conversation that is held in numerous conference rooms around the world, and even more so now with the expansion of our brands online.  What is our brand?  What does our brand represent?

Unfortunately, I fear that a lot of us get caught up in assigning the ‘brand’ to the just the logo or graphical aspects, rather than the story behind the brand.  In fact, I had this conversation at lunch the other day in relation to DMO websites that pull heavily from the brand guidelines for texture, fonts, colors, etc.  Certainly using the brand guidelines or style ensures a consistent look, but how many of our consumers are really able to tell if a certain typography or texture is the brand?

I am not saying that those branding guidelines are not important, but perhaps we should put an equal amount of focus and attention on the story, rather than just the logo.

Okay, part 2, the social part.  And full credit to Scott at the Social Media Snippets blog for providing the link.

In the past, most companies would look at a re-branding campaign as an internal and well guarded project.  No leaks, no open comments, etc.

However, in this case, Pepsi has decided to not only engage ‘a select group of 25 digital influencers‘ (read bloggers…wait, didn’t we just mention how important and influential bloggers are becoming?  Oh, right, we did.), but also created a FriendFeed room to gather consumer feedback about the new brand.

FriendFeed is basically a place to gather and automatically post all of your social media updates and stuff in one location.

Pepsi sent these 25 influencers a set of Pepsi cans detailing the logo history of the brand, then sent along a set of the new cans and an invitation to join their FriendFeed room to comment, respond and talk about the new brand.  See Peter Shankman’s post here.

Brilliant or insane?  Whichever view you take, you cannot help but be intrigued by the use of social media by Pepsi.  A perfect example of how organizations are utilizing social media to their advantage.  Use these relationships, test products or ideas, talk to consumers and influencers.

Not only has Pepsi taken advantage of those aspects, but they have also amassed a ton of PR, started building buzz around the new brand and reached out to, connected with and started a (hopefully) positive relationship with a group of major influencers.

However, even with all of these good feelings around the campaign, there are some missed opportunities and perhaps not a clear enough direction from the start.  But like we said at the being of the post, a fantastic case study for all of us to watch.

Comment? @travel2dot0 or email.