This holiday season, we’d like to celebrate Coke. For every marketer, Coca-Cola is a true inspiration – a beacon for all that is good and worthy in our profession. In a mature category with a strong head-to-head competitor, negligible product differences and countervailing trends, Coke continues to grow on the strength of its brand and its marketing. And in the midst of this season’s commercial madness, it’s one of the few brands that actually brighten the holiday! Coke is a gift to the marketing discipline, and here are 10 lessons it teaches us all:

  1. Become an asset manager – No brand is more “branded” than Coke. It has built a robust portfolio of assets—the color red, its proprietary bottle shape, its logotype, the polar bears—and it manages them with urgent attention and careful deliberation, building their value over time.
  2. Commit to consistency – It takes time and repetition to forge a lasting imprint in consumers’ consciousness, and Coke maintains long-term dedication to its campaigns (like “Have a Coke and a Smile”), marketing platforms (like American Idol) and identity elements. Note that, while Pepsi’s logo design has morphed repeatedly, Coke’s logo script has remained virtually unchanged since 1886!
  3. Honor your past – By definition, an icon is “executed according to a tradition.” Great brands have a reverence for their heritage.  Many have a museum like the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. The folks at Coke use its history as a compass and leverage its past in the present, like this reprise of the famous “Mean Joe Greene” ad to launch Coke Zero.
Interested in the other 7 tips? Jump over to for the full blog post.

Jim Stengel is a contributor for and president/CEO of The Jim Stengel Company. He was the former Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble, one of the most admired brand-building companies in the world.