It’s been linked to obesity, diabetes, hyperactivity and tooth decay. According to several blind taste tests, it doesn’t even taste that great. And yet once again, for the 13th year in a row, Coca-cola has been named the world’s top brand.
How does Coke do it? Part of the answer is a $3 billion ad spend that simply associates the brand with simple positive images on a very basic emotional level. World-class Olympic athletes reaching for a Coke. Enemy border guards sharing a Coke. Fashion models enjoying Diet Cokes.
As we watch the ads, our neurons build dendritic connections that reinforce the positive image of Coke. In essence, the neuron responsible for Coke is connected to the one responsible for admirable athletes, gorgeous fashion models, world peace, happy water sports, young love and the like. These connections work both ways. If we think about Coke, we’re likely to think about Olympic athletes, and if we think about Olympic athletes, there’s a chance we’ll think about Coke.
Skeptical? Consider this: Coke is the second-most recognized word in the world, behind “Okay.” The brand alone has been valued at $74 billion. And Coke and Diet Coke command the No. 1 and 2 market shares in the soft drink industry–Pepsi is No. 3.