Danny Finkelstein has written an article today about the image of the Conservative party and about changes in public perception. As part of this he used Coca-Cola as an example, the curved Coca-Cola bottle is iconic, loved and is recognisable even when only a fragment can be viewed, this he says the Conservatives would do well to aspire to.
My advice to Danny is to be very careful about what you use as a metaphor. One of the reasons that the Coke bottle has those timeless characteristics is because it has remain virtually unchanged since its creation in 1915. Not a point which supports Danny's "change is good" message.
It is also worth noting that one of the most damaging periods in Coca-Cola's history was when it changed its flavour to conform more closely to the increasingly successful and sweeter Pepsi Cola. All of Coke's research told them that people wanted change and that they liked the sweeter taste but when the new recipe Coke was launched it bombed. Coca-Cola suffered huge loss of market share and reputational damage, which led the CEO of Pepsi to say "we had been in a staring competition for the last hundred years and suddenly the other guy blinked".
There is a need for political parties to change, to remain in tune with the world as it is and not how it was. It is,however, worth looking at all the lessons that history (even business history) teaches us, not just the ones that conform to our prejudices.
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