According to a recent Huffington Post article, Coke is working to revive its brand via cultural leadership. Here’s blogger Carol Pierson Holding quoting event info from the Harvard Business School Club of New York:
Coca-Cola is also in the middle of an ambitious plan to double its business by 2020. … Just how does the venerable firm plan to execute this goal? … Mr. Tripodi will talk about ‘the brand as cultural leader’ — the imperative for many brands today to take a leadership position on issues and challenges that are important to their consumers and integral to the company’s DNA.”
It remains to be seen what form Coke’s cultural leadership will take. At the end of the day, the company derives the bulk of its revenue from selling drinks that are full of harmful and addictive high fructose corn syrup. So, unless there’s a complete realignment of their portfolio, it will be hard for these “positions” to be more than PR plays.
This gets into something that’s thusfar been an unstated element of how I’m thinking about cultural leadership. Namely, that brands who are showing leadership are doing so with the goal of doing long-term good in the world, good that will translate (somehow) into increased loyalty, preference and, ultimately, sales.
Can you be a leader if you’re not dedicated to a greater good? More importantly, must a brand be dedicated to a greater good? It remains to be seen.