Coca-Cola’s Sugar Free Branding

The sugar water company, Coca-Cola, are at a crossroad in the UK. The Government are introducing a controversial ‘Sugar Tax’, which threatens Coca-colas bottom line. Their flagship product, the self-titled cola drink, is one of the most sugary drinks you can buy. One 330ml can contain 35g of sugar, which is 7 teaspoons. This is, of course, a lot of sugar by anyone’s standards and is the reason why Coca-Cola is trying to reshape the perceptions of the company. 

The Coca-Cola company has already announced that they will not be changing their original Coca-Cola recipe, instead opting to shrink their bottles and sell them at a higher price. This isn’t surprising as Coke still has a bad taste in its mouth when New Coke was introduced in the 80’s, completely replacing their beloved Cola. This decision was quickly reversed after public outcry. Instead, Coke have opted to change their secondary product lines.


Coke has two low sugar alternatives; Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero Sugar. Diet Coke has gained  new flavour, feisty cherry and exotic mango, and introduced new packaging to appeal ‘to the millennials’ — whatever that means. They also moved away from the idea that diet coke was for women because let’s be honest that never really made any sense. 

Coke Zero, as it was previously called, was the ‘male’ counterpart (Why??) to diet coke. Its black cans were a stark contrast to the red and silver cans next to it. Zero more closely resembles its competitor Pepsi Max. Recently, coke made the move to rebrand Coke Zero to Coca-Cola Zero Sugar, and changed the recipe to more closely resemble the original drink. Coke hopes that this positions Zero sugar as an equal to their flagship product. (Diet Coke didn’t get a name change.) Coca-cola Zero Sugar also added flavoured counterparts, Cherry, Vanilla and Peach. What’s more surprising is the cans designs predominantly feature coca-cola red, with a thin strip of black at the top letting on that this is intact the low sugar alternative. This is where the fizzy drinks company shows their intentions. It probably won’t trick people into thinking that the new flavours are original coke, but it’s yet another way to bring these two closer together.


So does this mean that Coca-cola is trying to make everyone move to the Coca-cola Zero sugar? No, not necessarily, but it does mean that Coca-Cola sees its future in the low sugar, low calorie drinks. As a side note, this actually does contain some carbohydrates that are similar to sugar so it’s not entirely a true statement to say that it has no sugar, but it is a lot less. This is part of a concerted effort junk food companies are making to get with the times. As people become more aware of what exactly is in the things we consume, we start demanding ‘healthier options.’ As long as you’re consuming coke, or one of it’s many other drinks Coca-Cola owns, the multi-national conglomerate is happy. Maybe it doesn’t really matter what type of Coca-cola we drink, maybe you prefer Pepsi, but times are changing and sugar filled drinks are starting to feel the strain, the new Coca-Cola Zero packaging is one sign of this change. 

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