A Landor Associates brand evaluation study showed that the Coca-Cola brand enjoyed the highest brand awareness and greatest esteem in the United States. It was number two in Japan, and number six in Europe. No other brand comes even close to being among the top 10 in all three market areas. Coca-Cola is the worlds most recognised trademark. It is recognised by a staggering 94% of the worlds population! This is remarkable.
The Coca-Cola brand is conservatively estimated to be worth around $70 billion. Firms that pioneer new markets typically develop clearly defined sustainable competitive advantages. Coke is a classic example. There are two unique and salient features that make the Coke achievement noteworthy in the global arena. It is perhaps the only brand that has steadily sustained, consolidated and grown its equity over eight decades. Many other product and corporate brands have risen and fallen.
Secondly, Coke has held sway as a pre-eminent, unbeatable and undisputable brand colossus on the world stage in spite of it basically being just a carbonated beverage. It is not a miracle potion or a technological marvel. The Coke brand has come a long way from the time pharmacist John Styth Pemberton introduced it, as a patent medicine in Atlanta in 1886. Subse-quently, Coca-Cola was bought out by businessman Asa Griggs Candler who marketed the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola that we are so familiar with. The name and the product are part of the daily life of millions of consumers around the world, quenching peoples thirst in more than 195 countries. Today, Coca-Cola is an institution the world over.
The resilience of the Coca-Cola brand is legendary. It has survived tough times. It successfully battled flagging sales in the early 80s. It weathered the failure of the New Coke. It has stood its ground despite allegations of pollution, pesticides and toxicity. It has retained its brand leadership.
I must confess to having a soft corner for, and to being inspired by, Coca-Colas philosophy and practice of community relations. Bajaj Hindusthan Limited (BHL), Indias largest sugar and ethanol company, is as committed to the communities in and around each of its operating locations as the Coca-Cola Company is to Atlanta and globally. While Coca-Cola has been helping the people of Atlanta through scholarships, hotlines and donations, we in BHL have been contributing towards the economic development of large parts of rural Uttar Pradesh through building roads, enabling telecom connectivity in remote areas and building schools. Coca-Cola pioneered the use of recycled plastic bottles, while BHL has pioneered the green fuel ethanol movement in India and contributed to energy conservation through cogeneration in its sugar mills.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that the values that brand Coca-Cola embodies, far transcend just beverages.
The author is CEO of Bajaj Hindusthan Ltd