Sierra Mist is about the leave the mountains behind. The PepsiCo-owned brand is removing the word Sierra from its name as it becomes "Mist Twst" as part of a major branding overhaul that will put more emphasis on taste.
"We are working to highlight the lemon-lime credentials of the product and looking toward a spring launch of Mist Twist, at this point," a PepsiCo spokeswoman confirmed in an email.
The change is the latest makeover for the lemon-lime-flavored soda brand, which has undergone multiple overhauls since launching in 2000. The last big update came in late 2014, when the brand changed its look as part of a formula change that involved adding stevia, which was combined with sugar resulting in a 20% calorie reduction for an 8-ounce serving.
The PepsiCo spokeswoman declined to say if the latest overhaul will include another formula change. When Sierra Mist plugged the 2014 change on its Facebook page last year, it was met with a smattering of consumer complaints. One person stated that "the old recipe was a nice crisp taste, [and the] new one has a diet aftertaste," Ad Age reported last year.
Sierra Mist volume fell 3.7% in 2014, following a 11.6% drop in 2013, according to Beverage-Digest. As of 2014, Sierra Mist ranked 13th among all soda brands, falling from 12th in 2013, according to the publication. Coke-owned Sprite, by contrast, grew volume by 1% last year, and ranks sixth among sodas, according to Beverage-Digest.
PepsiCo executives discussed a turnaround plan for Sierra Mist at a fall meeting with bottlers, according to a Beverage-Digest report from October. "The brand is being reworked to highlight its lemon-lime credentials and taste, rather than a health message," the publication reported, citing sources, noting that the turnaround "will include new flavors in 2016 and 2017."
By focusing on taste, the newly named Mist Twst could be following a playbook similar to Sprite, which has found success targeting young, urban consumers. Sprite held a National Basketball Association sponsorship until PepsiCo took over the NBA deal from Coke in July. An image of the new Mist Twst provided to Ad Age by PepsiCo (above) shows an NBA logo on the side of the label. That suggests the brand could become part of the marketer's NBA plans, joining Mtn Dew, which has been a lead NBA brand for PepsiCo since the deal began.
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"Competing against Sprite is very difficult and they've struggled in figuring out ways to do it and this is a new approach that could resonate," Beverage-Digest Editor Duane Stanford said in an interview Thursday.
Sierra Mist's previous rebranding efforts have run the gamut. One of the brand's earliest looks included a mountain range in the background, while another design showed the word mist in a foggy haze. The 2014 overhaul included font changes such as the "M" in Mist looking like two triangles colliding.
Roughly five years ago the brand renamed itself "Sierra Mist Natural" when it replaced high-fructose corn syrup with sugar. Then in 2013, the brand went back to its two-word Sierra Mist moniker, removing "natural." That change was made "due to the lack of detailed regulatory guidance on the use of the term [natural]," a PepsiCo spokeswoman told Ad Age last year.
Here, a look back at some of the design changes on the brand: