Branding Article: Pepsi's Missed Brand Opportunity


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I love Pepsi. It’s that slightly sweeter taste and the all-American logo combined with the non-conformist statement that, well, it’s not Coke.

Yet Pepsi has been consistently #2, and there’s nothing wrong with being #2 if that’s your goal. But Pepsi’s goal is to be the #1 preferred brand (notice I didn’t say ‘taste’ – we all took the Pepsi taste test and they’re still #2) with members of the eponymously titled Pepsi Generation – an age group that they seemingly stretch from year to year.

As of late, Pepsi has employed Pop-Culture icons to represent their brand : Britney, Big n’ Rich, AROD and Jeff Gordon to name a few. Yet none of them seem to capture Coke’s ageless, timeless wave of emotion brought on by a 6 year-old boy and Mean Joe Green. That commercial touched all of our senses; the agony of defeat, a fan’s elation with their idol, a friendship being forged between generations and a refreshing beverage that made everything ok. Coke continues to focus on the experience, while Pepsi focuses on taste.

Which is why I cringe every time I go to a restaurant that only carries Pepsi products; Sure, I’m happy, but what of those who prefer Coke? The waiter/waitress always asks if you would like a beverage before ordering, and an overwhelming majority of people reply, “I’ll have a Coke. ” The wait staff them replies with the brand kiss of death:

“Is Pepsi ok?”

Is it ok? It’s like saying ‘no we don’t have Coke, but will you settle for this sub-par beverage?” And because they ask this way, the customer always reluctantly answers ‘yeah, I guess. ’

For every restaurant, there should be an in-house Pepsi Brand Champion - someone who will train all restaurant employees on Pepsi’s passion, core values, culture and more importantly, how to make it preferred! Instead of making it the red-headed step child on the menu, they should wear buttons that read, ‘We Proudly Serve Pepsi Products’. There should be a branded way to respond to the unavoidable Coke question. There should be Pepsi soda glasses and other branded materials so that it’s no surprise to the customers. People do not choose restaurants because of the soda they carry, so Pepsi needs to step up and educate it’s captured audience on why they should be the choice of every generation.

tandembranding is a nation-wide branding firm, and we work with marketing directors to make their company famous. We specialize in industries that cater to the customer experience.

For more articles on how branding can make you famous, please visit

Mark Campanale, Brand Expert


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