May 21, 2014

Coca-Cola Light: A Lesson in International Branding

by Guest Blogger

Note: I would like to thank Bill Ferrell for editing and posting this article for me while I'm on vacation. He is not just an incredibly handsome man, but a beacon of light in a selfish world.

Buongiorno! Greetings from Italy where I am traveling with my family. I have been on the look-out for interesting anecdotes to share about trademarks or branding from the other side of the Atlantic. Not surprisingly, Coca-Cola, a company known for its branding and trademarks (as Randy discussed here) delivered.

You see, my mom loves Diet Coke. Loves it. But she has been having trouble ordering it here. Every time she has ordered it, she has been brought a Coke Zero. So I went looking for answers. It turns out that in Italy and many other countries, Diet Coke does not exist. Instead, Diet Coke is called Coca-Cola Light.


As you can see, Coca-Cola Light's packaging is very similar to Diet Coke's packaging. So what are the differences, if any, between Coke's diet and light products? Here is how Coke's website describes it:

"Coca-Cola Zero provides real Coca-Cola taste for variety-seeking consumers. Coca-Cola Zero is sweetened with a blend of low-calorie sweeteners, while Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame. As for Coke/Coca-Cola light, in certain countries, the term 'diet' is not used to describe low-calorie foods and beverages. In these countries, we offer Coke/Coca-Cola light. The sweetener blend used for Coke/Coca-Cola light is formulated for each country based on consumer preference."

Coke's decision to brand its diet and light products under different names in different countries is an example to all brands that flexibility is needed when branding for an international community. One size may not fit all when it comes to brand names, and businesses may be forced to market similar products under different names based on industry practices in certain countries. It may not always be worth it, but when you have a popular product like Diet Coke, you should do everything you can to make sure it is being marketed properly to your international audience.

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