Tshiamo Tladi
Tshiamo Tladi

What new brands can learn from old 2L Coke?

by Tshiamo Tladi. What does it take for a new brand to establish itself in the hearts and homes of consumers?

by Tshiamo Tladi. There is nothing that excites me quite like seeing a new South African brand being born that captures the attention and imagination of consumers. Watching it grow to establish its place in consumer hearts and homes is truly magical. Though launching a new brand is relatively easy, sustaining it long enough to win consumer hearts and a place in their homes is most often the part that proves hardest. In recent years, we have seen the birth of several new local brands grab our interest, as well as witness the speed at which they have been able to amass patronage and achieve significant milestones, both locally and abroad.

So, what does it take for a new brand to establish itself in the hearts and homes of consumers? There are a myriad of clever tactics and strategies that can be packaged together to answer this question. However, I also believe that there is a sheer simplicity in the approach that can be adopted to help new brands distil its offering, communications and value proposition to better win consumer hearts and homes. To this end, I would like to present my thoughts on what I believe new brands can learn from the 2L Coke and how it established itself.

Launching a new brand in SA

So, how do most new local brands establish themselves in South Africa? The vast majority of new local brands have a very straight forward approach to seeding and launching themselves. Right off the bat, there is heavy reliance in leveraging associations to popular influencers and personalities as the first reason you would want to engage with the brand. To follow, they would announce a campaign or series of activations to try convey what their brand offers and stands for. Thereafter, there would be a barrage of content pieces, interplayed with featurettes about the founder, along with untested proclamations being made how this is the messianic brand to take the South African landscape to the next level.

Though this is particularly effective in garnering and amassing followers for your brand, not all large scale followings translate into sustainable growth and sales for your brand in a manner that truly wins the consumer over. Inasmuch as the above is enough to grab consumer attention, we might not always need to rely as heavily on influencers to articulate our offering to our intended consumer. The overreliance might even turnout to be a risk to the brand itself. However, being able to distil what you are offering consumers and how you want them to engage with your brand in a manner that resonates and is relevant could be the simple trick needed to win consumers affections.

The 2L Coke story

Today, the 2L Coke has become a mainstay in nearly all consumer homes. Not because of the speed to innovate, adapt, or change its offering, but rather for how true and clear it has held on to its identity and value proposition. It has stuck to its guns despite the ever growing landscape of consumer needs. It has stayed true to its positioning and it has now become the epitome of refreshment and the most compelling choice for any and all sharing occasions.

This is something that despite its various offerings from the same manufacturer (i.e., Fanta, Sprite etc.), a basket of 2L drinks is incomplete without a 2L Coke in it and most often taking up a significant portion of that basket too. I would like to believe that the brand was able to accomplish this by an intentional strategy of positioning the 2L Coke as the heart and essence of the brand. The 2L Coke has become what the brand stands for and will continue to deliver consistently and uncompromisingly to its audience of consumers. Despite the many variant offerings available in market, consumers will always remember to go back to the 2L Coke.

Why is this particularly important to new brands and marketers? Brand salience is what a lot of new brands need, yet most often overlook in pursuit of sustainable success. It’s in the mastery of salience – a single-minded value proposition and clear articulation of brand, that I believe the 2L Coke gives us great lessons for new brands to adopt in growth plans. Brands are not built on clout and social media trends; they are built on a clear brand identity and compelling value proposition. The clarity in identity helps consumers know how to engage with you as a persona. The brand’s value proposition allows consumers to know where to place you in their repertoire of consumption and usage.

Consumers are constantly falling in and out of love with brands. However, brands that stand the test of time are those that are able to constantly remind consumers why they fell in love with the brand in the first place. The opportunity of launching a new brand affords marketers the chance to make an indefinable first impression about what their brand offers. This first impression needs to be clear, compelling and uncompromisingly consistent, despite the many ways the brand may grow and evolve over time. So, as marketers, we need to get into the habit of pausing every now and then, to ask ourselves why consumers would and have fallen in love with our brands. Thereafter, we should ask ourselves if we are still on course or not. It is in staying true to the brand’s promise and identity that takes a new brand from just another new offering to something that wins hearts and homes over, like the iconic 2L Coke.


Main image credit: Photo by Tayla Kohler on Unsplash.



Tshiamo Tladi is a seasoned Strategist and Shopper Marketer with years of experience developing winning strategies that have guided creative work and commercial growth from both agency and client side. He is currently Strategy Director at specialist through-the-line and retail agency, 34 Degrees.


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