Advertising Age Associate Publisher Scott Donaton moderated a panel at the American Magazine Conference that brought together Suzanne Hogan, chief operating officer of branding agency Lippincott Mercer, and Alev Gokce, Coca-Cola Co.'s global brand director, to explain the key factors a company -- or magazine -- needs to keep in mind when it goes about brand building.
Ms. Hogan emphasized that in order to expand a brand beyond its current group of products, it's essential to identify the essence of the brand. If a company like Apple identifies its essence as elegance and simplicity, for example, then every product under the Apple brand has to fulfill that promise. Likewise, if a company is known for its expertise and ability to guide a consumer, than having a call center that is compensated on how quickly it moves customers off the phone is not being true to its brand essence and will disappoint consumers.
Ms. Gokce took the audience through the steps Coca-Cola took in determining whether it could develop a brand extension under the Coke name that included coffee as an ingredient. The result was Coca-Cola Blak, a low-calorie cola and coffee drink in sophisticated packaging aimed at adults 30 and up. The drink has a complex taste profile that differentiates it from other Coke products. However, the company was careful to keep all the messages around the introduction on the idea of revitalization and refreshment, two core attributes of brand Coke.
"It was very important we stay true to the mother brand," Ms. Gokce said. "But every day when we come to work at the Coca-Cola Co., we look for new, incremental ways to be relevant."