Soda wars heat up: Pepsi rebrands iconic soda line with focus on zero sugar

By Ryan Daily

- Last updated on GMT

Image credit: PepsiCo
Image credit: PepsiCo

Related tags Pepsi Pepsico rebrand

In a further shake-up to PepsiCo's beverage line, the company rebranded its namesake product for the first time in 14 years as the competition with its rival Coca-Cola heats up in the zero-sugar soda space.

The rebranded Pepsi logo and visual identity system​, including a new typeface, will appear in North America this fall before rolling out globally in 2024. The new design will encompass all of Pepsi's physical and digital touchpoints, including packaging, fashion, its fleet, fountains, and more.

PepsiCo and our portfolio of brands has never been shy about reinvention to move at the speed of culture and evolve with our fans, and Pepsi is a great example of this mindset,​” Todd Kaplan, CMO at PepsiCo, told FoodNavigator-USA. “Pepsi has always been a brand that embraces change and has done so over the past 125 years. The new visual identity and new taste of Pepsi Zero Sugar are a couple [of] ways that we’re bridging to the future.​”

PepsiCo’s portfolio continues zero-sugar transformation

The rebrand comes as PepsiCo continues to push zero-sugar to the center of its portfolio​.

Signals are clear that zero sugar is increasingly a choice that many consumers are making,​” Kaplan said. “Among the key updates in the Pepsi rebrand is the addition of the color black, an ode to Pepsi Zero Sugar, which is a major growth driver for the brand, especially as consumer demand grows for great tasting zero-sugar cola alternatives,​” he added.

This year, PepsiCo has made several moves on the zero-sugar front across its portfolio. In January, PepsiCo announced a reformulated​ of Pepsi Zero Sugar, which reduced caffeine, removed ginseng, and adjusted the sweetener system – though it still uses aspartame and acesulfame Potassium (ace K) for its core high-intensity sweeteners. The same month, PepsiCo replaced Sierra Mist with Starry, available in a zero-sugar option.

At the Super Bowl this year, PepsiCo got the word out​ about the new taste of Pepsi Zero Sugar with its "Great Acting or Great Taste?" campaign, featuring actors Steve Martin and Ben Stiller and a giveaway of 10m bottles of Pepsi Zero Sugar.

Zero sugar continues to be a focus of PepsiCo … and Coca-Cola

While admiring the "throwback​" style of the new logo, Head of Soft Drinks at Euromonitor International Howard Telford sees the change as a necessary move, as consumers' attitudes and perceptions of zero-sugar beverages have changed, and brands can no longer use the same tactics to win in the market. 

Historically, consumers and brands saw the sugar-sweetened beverage as the regular or core products and diet drinks as sub-brands, Telford said. However, “that is clearly no longer the case with consumers and can’t be the mentality in terms of how these products are marketed & merchandised,​” he added. 

While PepsiCo has been more aggressive in centering its portfolio around zero sugar in the last year, "Coca-Cola has done similar work in 2017 and most recently in 2021​, focusing on the appearance of the Zero Sugar products, and bringing those into alignment with the rest of the portfolio," ​Telford said. 

"In many global markets where both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola operate today, the zero sugar products are the flagship products within their respective trademark. Using the visual identity of the brand (packaging, ads, etc.) to make the zero-sugar proposition clear — and establishing these zero-sugar products as the focal point of the trademark — will be extremely important to the future of both companies and the wider CSD category.​" 

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