The Coca-Cola Self-Brand Connection

A few weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised to come across my name on a bottle of coke next to the name of a friend’s (both part of the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign). Of course I then had to purchase the Coke with my name on it, but only after texting a picture of the bottles in the vending machine to my friend. As I looked at my name written in the iconic Coke font, I felt a strong emotional connection between myself and a brand I’ve been familiar with most of my life. Talk about breaking through the clutter and convincing me to reach for another Coke the next time I’m craving a soda.

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign has truly proven successful in helping Coke develop their brand loyalty. The 2014 marketing initiative was adapted from the 2011 Australian campaign of the same name, specifically targeting the millennial generation, and has gained a lot of positive attention throughout the summer, increasing traction on social media platforms in the US. According to Networked Insights, 95% of consumers had positive/neutral reactions to ‘Share a Coke’ and Coke reported over 125,000 posts across all digital channels at the start of August. Now as the campaign comes to an end, here’s a closer look at why Coke’s campaign stood out this summer…

One probable psychological explanation as to why the campaign was received so positively by consumers is the Name-Letter Effect. Unsurprisingly, research by social psychologists suggests we associate positive emotions with our names, and generally prefer our initials over other letters in the alphabet. Furthermore, studies show that the Name-Letter Effect causes us to select products and services that share our initials (not to mention our full names). Applying the Name-Letter Effect to my experience, it becomes obvious why I strongly identified and connected with the brand when I saw my name on the bottle in the vending machine.

It is important to note the positive influence high levels of personal identification within consumers can have on brand loyalty when viewing a campaign. I think it is safe to say that all companies want their brands to not only be purchased, but loved and valued above all others in their category amongst consumers. In an ideal world, companies want consumers to connect with their brands on such an individual level that they conceptualize the branded products as an extension of them as a person. Any brand an individual deeply associates with then becomes a means of self-definition, as well as a way to outwardly express themselves to others. This is commonly known as Self-Brand Connection, and describes the ultimate ideation of brand-loyalty.

The key takeaway here is that companies should strive to develop clever marketing strategies that cause consumers to view brands as an important facet of their life, and not just a simple, impersonal product. Reflecting on this as it relates to the ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, I don’t think there is a better way to build Self-Brand Connection than replacing the name of a product with those of its’ consumers.