Coca-Cola has recently announced that it will be changing the design and recipe of Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, one of the brand’s staple products. The can’s design has undergone a slight refresh, but the biggest change is the flavour. While Coke hasn’t given away anything about what’s changed, it’s revealed that the new taste will be even more delicious and refreshing” than the original flavour. The fan reaction to the change reveals a lot about the importance of brand consistency.

Consumers love brand consistency and change is scary

The thinking behind the design and recipe change is to get Coke’s zero-calorie product to resemble their traditional Coca Cola as much as possible. A large number of fans aren’t happy with the change, though. “I cant tell you how often I’ve had the wrong can of Coke delivered, cos you can’t come up with a design that’s different enough, ” one customer said on Twitter.

Change, especially with iconic and legacy brands, can upset customers. It’s common for brands to receive backlash for refreshing their look and feel – think about BT’s logo change and the negative response they got. The fact that customers tend to dislike when a brand changes demonstrates how important consistency is when it comes to branding. 

Coke isn’t the first brand in the past weeks to switch up its product’s branding. Mars-owned brands Snickers and Starburst have revealed that they’ll be releasing limited-edition retro versions. Snickers has reverted to Marathon, it’s original name from 30 years ago, while Starburst is temporarily changing to its former name, Opal Fruits. Tapping into the perfect recipe of nostalgia and being familiar while different, these new (or old) products have been very popular amongst customers.

Brands that successfully reinvented themselves

Despite our inherent need for brand consistency, Mars has proven that it’s possible to successfully reinvent your brand or products. A number of other famous brands have done this in the past. 

It’s almost hard to believe that Amazon began selling music, videos, and books and now sells just about everything. As well as stocking products from homeware to consumer electronics, Amazon also has a video streaming service, film studio, music platform, its own AI tech, checkout-free shops, and much more.

In 2003, Lego started to suffer, making a loss for the first time since its founding in 1932. After attempting and failing to diversify its product range, the brand transformed itself with the release of The Lego Movie in 2014. To everyone’s surprise, a movie about plastic bricks scored a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was applauded by critics. The fun and creativity the movie brought to the brand has made it one of the most recognisable and commercially successful in the world.

Change is scary and brands can definitely get it wrong when it comes to mixing things up. But when it’s done well, it can accelerate them to new heights.