The Ideology of Image

Sales & Marketing

“Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games.”
– Babe Ruth

 

Iconic Brands Master Their Marketing

By Catherine Smith

Photography By Rich Smith

Chattanooga is home to a number of iconic brands, many of which have been around for several generations. When it comes to maintaining an iconic brand image, companies must strike the right balance between maintaining tradition and keeping up with the times to remain relevant in this ever-changing market. Here, we take a look at four Chattanooga icons to find out how they’ve created and maintained brand images to withstand the test of time.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED

Rick Hansard, Sales & Marketing Execution Manager

The Scenic City has been home to Coca-Cola Bottling Company United (CCBCU), the world’s first franchised bottler of Coca-Cola, since 1899. Though the branding features the iconic Coca-Cola script and bright red that is internationally recognized, these bottles encapsulate more than beverages, according to Rick Hansard, sales and marketing execution manager for CCBCU. “Coca-Cola is unique. The name represents not only our company, but Coca-Cola is also synonymous with a product which is the category leader in our city, in our country, and around the world,” he explains.

Bolstering the strength of CCBCU’s brand identity is the long-standing history of the Coca-Cola name and image. “That wonderful Spencerian-script font used to create the Coca-Cola brand logo has remained unchanged since the company’s inception in 1886! Also significant is the contour bottle that became an international icon for our brand at the turn of the century,” Hansard says.

Though the market has changed drastically over the years, CCBCU has remained innovative to keep up, according to Hansard. “The beverage industry is extremely competitive. In recent years, the number of products available to the public has grown exponentially. The Coca-Cola Company product line has expanded to over 700 different items that fall under the identity of a Coca-Cola brand. We offer dozens of soft drink flavors in addition to industry leaders in other categories such as Dasani Water, Minute Maid Juices, Powerade, BodyArmor, and Monster Energy Drinks,” he shares.

Great care is taken to maintain the brand’s reputation as innovation brings new products and an expanding consumer base. “Every associate of Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED undergoes training that emphasizes the importance of protecting how our brand is represented. It is now more important than ever that we protect and promote our brand identity. There is an expectation of excellence associated with our brands, and we treat that responsibility as a top priority,” Hansard says. “It is imperative that a brand with a rich history also remains relevant to younger consumers. The Coca-Cola Company and its association of bottlers strive to provide the right combination of products to all consumers where they live, work, and play. We will continue to simply provide beverages for life!”

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(Image #4) Photo Courtesy of Ruby Falls, (Image #1) Photo by Sam Fentress / Courtesy of Ruby Falls

 

Ruby Falls

Lara Caughman, Corporate Communications Manager

Ruby Falls is a cavernous attraction, located deep in the heart of Lookout Mountain, which features the longest publicly accessible underground waterfall in the United States. According to Lara Caughman, corporate communications manager for Ruby Falls, while some aspects of their branding are set in stone, others continue to evolve – much like the natural wonder that first put this attraction on the map.

“Ruby Falls’ brand identity is woven through everything we do. The spirit of adventure, discovering wonder, and connecting to nature is a dynamic force behind each touch point,” Caughman explains. “We can easily trace this brand identity all the way back to the beginning, to the decade of planning prior to the discovery of Ruby Falls in 1928. It’s in our DNA.” According to Caughman, advancements in photography and the advent of colorful advertising shaped Ruby Falls’ visuals into what they are today, with fun, earthy tones, stunning images of the waterfall, and graphics that feature compasses, maps, and other symbols of adventure. This theme carries guests through every moment of the Ruby Falls experience, from website clicks to in-person visits.

The brand identity that Ruby Falls has curated goes far deeper than the surface level, however. “This identity motivates team members behind the scenes and in guest interactions. It shapes how we share our story on social media and the architectural design of our venues, and it is the basis of all of our messaging and brand experiences, whether in ads and billboards, signage across our campus, large-scale murals, social media content, and in-person guest experiences at the park,” says Caughman. 

As they come up on their 95th anniversary in December of this year, Ruby Falls continues to enjoy their reputation of being an adventure for the whole family, and their branding has always made that clear. “A consistent brand identity steered our company through the Great Depression, recessions, changes in ownership, fuel shortages restricting travel, company expansions, significant changes in the advertising industry, and most recently, a global pandemic. While our brand’s marks are refreshed for relevance, what is at the core of our brand identity is timeless, and it propels us forward,” Caughman concludes.

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MoonPie

Sam Campbell V, Operations Director

Born from a coal miner’s desire for a snack “as big as the moon,” MoonPie has been a staple of snacking in Chattanooga and beyond for 106 years. Selling for just 5 cents apiece in their early days, MoonPie quickly gained popularity for being affordable, substantial, and tasty with a unique s’mores flavor that has delighted generations of consumers.

Throughout the brand’s history, they have maintained lifelong fans while continuing to attract younger generations, an undoubtedly impressive feat. “MoonPie is an iconic, memory-laden snack. As a 106-year-old brand, we try hard to deliver the taste and value our consumers have come to love and expect each and every day,” says Sam Campbell V, operations director and a fifth-generation owner at Chattanooga Bakery, Inc. According to Campbell, the brand has remained dedicated to providing the same value as well as keeping the original recipe intact all these years – even as they’ve added new flavors, like blueberry, to the lineup. “We want to keep providing our loyal consumers with a delicious treat they love and trust, and we continue to work on new varieties to maintain interest and appeal,” Campbell explains.

While MoonPie is a treat based in tradition, the brand has managed to reach new markets by maintaining an innovative approach to marketing with the same focus they’ve always had. “To ensure we’re a brand of choice for the next generation, we work hard to engage with younger consumers in a fun, memorable way – most notably on social media. For a small brand with a limited budget, we’ve been able to win national recognition with our social media that’s timely, energetic – maybe a smidge snarky at times – and a lot of fun!” Campbell shares. “With a name like MoonPie, we need to keep having fun.”

Looking to the future, MoonPie plans to continue providing Chattanoogans with this iconic treat for generations to come. Campbell says, “Our brand is everything to us and essential to our ability to keep competing and to keep baking memories for another 100 years. We’re humbled to be a fifth-generation, one brand, family-owned business right here in beautiful Chattanooga, our forever home.”

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Photos by Maycreate / Courtesy of The Read House

 

The Read House

Ken Merkel, Regional Director of Operations

The Read House, a 241-room luxury hotel, has been a staple of Chattanooga since its establishment in 1872. Fully restored with the jazzy splendor of the roaring ‘20s, this hotel maintains its glimmering history and a classic sense of Southern hospitality while offering a full suite of modern comforts. “As a historic hotel, honoring our history is paramount. While we pride ourselves on our elegant property, we never want to come off as pretentious. Our doors are always open to everyone, so we make it a priority to ensure our brand identity reflects we are a destination for all to feel comfortable, welcome, and ready to have fun,” says Ken Merkel, regional director of operations for Avocet Hospitality.

“The Read House has always been at the forefront of society in Chattanooga and the place to be for any big event, whether that be the introduction of Coca-Cola to Chattanooga in the hotel’s drug store in 1904 or Winston Churchill staying at the property during a lecture tour in 1932,” says Merkel. “The Read House was once looked at as the Grand Dame of Chattanooga, and the vision was to rebirth the hotel to again be that type of hotel for Chattanoogans. As time has gone on, and specifically when Avocet Hospitality took over as the owners and operators of the property in 2016, The Read House has evolved to reflect a more playful and sensational tone throughout the guest experience, always trying to push the envelope and create a spectacle.”

Even as The Read House management has modernized the space over the years, great care has been taken to maintain this rich history. “As we continue to innovate and change, we keep our brand top of mind. We have an in-house historian who helps curate our hall of history and ensures our Chattanoogan roots are included in everything we do. The Read House is known for its numerous events that allow everyone to gather in one place and celebrate together, just as the city has always done at the hotel.” Merkel explains. Such events include annual themed parties and holiday offerings, making the space a staple for locals as well as visitors in the Scenic City.

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