Corporate Eye

The Evolution of the Coca-Cola Brand

coca-cola signJust last week, I published an article here on the Corporate Eye blog about leveraging company culture for brand storytelling. A couple of days later, Fast Company published a perfect example of using brand history for storytelling that I want to share with you today.

In its 2-minute and 11-second video, the team at FastCo Studios tells the 128-year history of Coca-Cola using words and images.

It’s not just a great example of brand storytelling, it’s also a great example of visual storytelling through short-form, social content. The video is brief, laser-focused, fun, interesting, and highly shareable.

You can take a look at the video below.

What makes this video work so well? As a brand storytelling device, it includes two ingredients that brand marketers should take note of:

1. The Nostalgia Factor

The video includes some well known stories from the history of the Coca-Cola brand like the 77-day lifespan of New Coke and the iconic “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” commercials. The video is filled with nostalgia that will surely evoke emotional reactions from many viewers.

For those of us who are old enough, did you remember that Kim Carnes and Michael Jackson appeared in Coke commercials? Sure, we remember the Michael Jackson hair-on-fire Pepsi commercial, but how many people remember his Diet Coke commercial?

2. The Trivia Factor

At the same time, the video includes some lesser known facts that make viewers sit back and say, “I didn’t know that!” For example, did you know that the original Coca-Cola recipe, one of the most guarded trade secrets in the world, was originally developed by a pharmacist? Did you know that the pharmacist’s bookkeeper designed the Coca-Cola logo using his own handwriting? Did you know that Coke sales doubled during the 1920s prohibition in the United States? These aren’t boring facts like how many awards the company has won or who its executives are. These facts are actually interesting, and that’s why they work so well in this video.

As brand marketers, we have to step back from the companies behind the brands that we promote and look at the brand story from consumers’ perspectives. What parts of the brand story would actually be interesting to consumers? Effective brand storytelling needs to tell the stories that consumers want to hear, not the stories that the company wants to tell. While these two things could be the same, they are far more often not.

Image: anyjazz65 licensed CC BY-2.0

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.