Brand Genius: Tribes of Coke

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By the 1980s, it looked like Coca-Cola had maximised its growth potential. But it wanted more.

Coca-Cola tribe

The biggest soft drinks company in the world had two options: steal customers from other beverage companies or encourage its pre-existing loyalists to buy more. Coke took the view that the best of those two options was both of them. It achieved this by diversifying its appeal with unique products targeted at specific market segments. Today, there’s a coke product for everyone. Here’s what your coke says about you:

Original Coke: The Everyman

Coke original

Full flavour, full sugar, full satisfaction. Original Coke fans are life’s-too-short types who want to enjoy the real deal, whether it be from a can, a plastic bottle or as it tastes best, a glass one.

Diet Coke: The Fashionista

Diet Coke

Originally introduced in 1982 intended to capture the calorie conscious market, Diet Coke is now easily as famous as it’s 128-year-old father. Today the brand is intrinsically tied to the fashion world.


Packaging design collaborations with Marc Jacobs, Jean Paul Gautier and countless others have hallmarked Diet Coke as an intrinsically girlie offering. One might have seen this as the brand excluding half the population 'til Coke Zero launched in 2005.

Coke Zero: The Metrosexual

Coke Zero

The gendered exclusivity and different formula of Diet Coke might have meant the end of the brand's appeal to health-conscious males but fortunately, it had a stroke of genius. Coke Zero claims to offer an identical taste to Original Coke but with absolute no sugar.

With an unashamedly macho ad campaign and a label design that ticks just about every stereotypically masculine box (read all about them here) Coke Zero might not deserve it’s popularity based on originality, but it definitely does for sheer cheek.

Coca-Cola Life: The Whole Foodie

Coke Life

You can’t be a multi-national conglomerate corporation making a calorific, high sugar beverage, billions of dollars and questionable decisions without also making a few enemies.

Coca-Cola Life, aimed at 33-55 year olds, is said to taste identical to regular Coke but is only 89 calories per 330ml can (compared to Coke's 140). It's production comes as a reaction to those who have criticised the cancer-linked sweetener used in both Coke Zero and Diet Coke. The jury is still out on whether Coke Life is any healthier than the alternatives but one thing's for sure, the green label alone sets this sub-brand apart.

Coca-Cola Lime/Lemon/Vanilla/Black Cherry/Orange/Raspberry: The Connoisseur 

Coca-Cola flavours

This is Coke playing hard to get. Introduced for a limited time and still micro dispensed through specialists, these variants captured the ‘gotta try ‘em all’ market. Then they created a whole new army of Coke loyalists who feel a thrill every time they rediscover their favourite.

Caffeine Free Diet Coke: The Coke-Head

Caffine free Coke

Another 80’s throwback, Caffeine Free Coke came about in order to aid the occasion of drinking Coca-Cola right before bed. Just like Diet Coke, it captured new consumers without cannibalising sales from Coke’s classic product. Clever, isn’t it?


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