The public relations industry has all sorts of niche specialties and compelling areas of expertise, but for those interested in branding — and packaging in particular — the news that Pepsi is updating its bottle design is a big deal. Packaging geeks are like Star Trek fans; they take what they love very seriously.
And they should. Brands ranging from Heinz to Chanel to POM to Maker’s Mark define themselves at least in part through their packaging. In cases like these, the public can easily identify the brand just by looking at the bottle. Pepsi, of course, wants to be a youthful brand — parlance for a hip and carefree edginess that hopefully sells itself to one’s equally cool peers — and hopes to leverage that image with a new “asymmetrical” bottle.
Drinking from a bottle is a very tactile experience, so beverage brands like Pepsi are in an excellent position to differentiate themselves from competitors by making the bottle look a little different and feel a little different in a consumer’s hand. Such shifts, however, must be done without sacrificing an established brand identity. That’s why Pepsi hasn’t touched its 2008 logo update or tinkered too dramatically with the presentation of its products. Basic stuff, really, but PR experts want to know one thing: how does this impact the public’s perception of Pepsi, if at all?
Does the hipper, quirkier Pepsi bottle help diffuse the recent spate of bad press about the unhealthy aspects of soda (especially when it comes in oversized containers)? Is Pepsi even trying to address that issue with this subtle rebranding exercise by presenting the world with a sleeker and more image-conscious soda? We’re guessing not.
Pepsi isn’t only fighting the war of public opinion, it’s fighting its arch nemesis Coke for market share — and we all know a classic Coke bottle when we see it.