Share a Coke with Your Name on it: Getting Personal with VDP and Integrated Marketing



Personalized CokeAfter success in Australia, South Africa, the UK and dozens of other countries, Coke is finally releasing personalized Coke in the US this summer of 2014 – and it seems to be a social media hit (at least judging by my Facebook newsfeed.) 250 of the most popular names for millenials and teens will be found on 20 oz. bottles of Coke, Diet Coke and Zero. You can check online to see if your name will be on the bottles, and you can personalize virtual bottles to share via social media as well. But don’t get too creative – to avert potential viral disasters, the website will not generate any name not in their approved database! 😉
So why not get variable?

(The following article was first posted in 2013.)

Variable Data Packaging?
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Variable Data Printing is a proven catalyst in effective marketing – when properly executed, research indicates that response rates can be increased by as much as 30% with VDP. Now corporations are discovering creative new ways to combine personalized content with both online and print communications for a truly integrated marketing outreach. With the dominance of social media, consumers are beginning to expect (or in marketing-speak, “demand”) a personally targeted appeal from their advertisers. And who is more successful at branding and effective marketing than Coca-Cola?

But, VDP packaging? Well, in a way…. In Australia, and now the UK, Coke is putting out millions of bottles bearing, rather than their iconic logo, 150 names as a way to “personalize” their packaging. Coke enjoys such a universally established brand recognition that they can even remove their logo from their products and still count on consumer loyalty. The campaign is called “Share A Coke”, and as a truly integrated concept, it combines the product packaging with an online site where you can create a “virtual personalised Coke can” if you are unable to find the name you are looking for among the 150 choices. Outdoor ads, and social media also drive the campaign. The video below shares how Coke anticipated the buzz generation on Twitter to further build consumer interaction:

After a successful run in Australia, Coke is repeating the project in the UK. Now, a true VDP product packaging would require the Coke bottles to be printed with the customer’s name before rolling out of the vending machine – an expensive proposition – but the success of this semi-VDP approach highlights some important ideas:

  • the power of variable data personalization in affecting consumer choice,
  • an increasing consumer expectation that we can share a personal interaction with what was previously an unreachable corporate entity when it comes to our consumer purchasing power. The buzzword is “engagement,” and consumers are realizing their new role involves more than passive consumption, but can also include interaction and influence.
  • the value of finding ways to initiate the power and outreach of social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to your marketing advantage


Share a Coke campaign
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Printers understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmental responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

3 Logo Makeovers: 3 Reasons for a Brand Refresh

Autumn must be the time of year for updating brands – there seem to be several high profile changes recently. As companies evolve and markets change, brand gurus try to reflect new attributes and appeal to new market segments through relevant upgrades to their corporate identities. Often companies that are approaching a milestone, such as an anniverary, will deem it time to update their image. Changes in the nature of the business, the marketplace, public perceptions, trends, or the company’s mission also can justify a change. Below are three recent examples of corporations that recently responded to change with just such a makeover.

Changing Consumer Demand: Arby’s

I recently wrote about Wendy’s upcoming image remake and their accompanying planned changes to their restaurants and menu. Arby’s, in the same fast-food market, has similar updates planned in their attempt to appeal to health-conscious consumers looking for fast food choices that are also healthy, organic and interesting. Responding to competition from other chains, both Wendy’s and Arby’s see the importance of updating their menus and the importance of reflecting positive changes in their image. (Read more on these changes at Arby’s in a great article from NPR.)

I’ve always enjoyed the cowboy hat in the Arby’s logo, but am not a fan of the new bevel or extruded filter on the shape now. It seems unnecessary and a little dated. The typography of the name “Arby’s” has changed to all lower case, and the apostrophe now has an odd design in it, one I assume MIGHT be representative of a meat slicer? It’s hard to tell. The new tagline, however, is “Slicing Up Freshness™.” All this emphasis on sliced meat is perhaps due to the popularity of fresh-sliced meats such as Boar’s Head and an appeal to the postive image of fresh deli sandwiches.


Changing Technology and Marketplace: USA Today

USA Today, approaching its 30th anniversary and in the midst of a comprehensive sea change in the very nature of newspapers and print media, has redesigned its logo/masthead in a fresh, minimalistic remake that references the original logo yet moves ahead in a versatile, modern and concise way. I really like the simplicity of this change and the appropriateness of the symbolism. The new mark evolves the dated blue globe of the original logo into a simple, large circle that will vary in color to encompass diverse news sections and topics. It has a sleeker look, similar to many website icons. The new brand and the fresh page design reference a future for the newspaper that is open to all the electronic avenues into which media will flow. (Read an excellent review of the USA Today changes at The Branding Source.)


Changing Internal/Corporate Structure: Duke Energy

A third inspiration for a brand redesign is when a corporation’s structure changes and grows. Duke Energy is updating its logo to reflect the acquisition of another power company, Progress Energy. You want an image that remains comfortable to consumers of both brands but relevant to the evolution of the overall business. When you view these two logos side by side with the new one, you can see the attempt to retain characteristics from both marks. The most drastic change overall is in the color palette – moving to blues and greens, probably to reflect a more earth-friendly, sustainable image in a marketplace that is increasingly attentive to such concerns.

These marketing changes illustrate the importance of keeping your brand fresh. A total redesign is generally not necessary, but unless your logo is established as a thoroughly iconic image (by that I mean you are Coke or McDonalds!), most logos and marks need to consistently be evaluated and evolve over time to avoid becoming stale and giving the public an impression you do not want. Time to get started?

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.