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Good vibes for Coca-Cola's energy drink

Naming a new refreshment beverage
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Nalu is a go-to energy drink for those who appreciate a fresh and fruity feel to their workday's caffeine moment. It comes in many flavours and is packed with vitamins and caffeine from green coffee beans.

To introduce it to the market, Coca-Cola was looking for branding that would set the drink apart from the aggressive, performance-centric look and feel of similar products.

We created Nalu — the unique name with global potential and validity, making space for a new standard in the energy drink segment. The name has set the tone for the overall feel-good branding that stems from the surfing culture.

Continue reading to discover the process behind this case.

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Approach and methodology

At the moment of picking up this briefing, we already had extensive experience in naming food and beverage brands and sub-brands, including some work for Coca-Cola Company. Since this sector is particularly saturated with brands, names and trademarks, the challenge lies in finding a unique and claimable space for the new brand rather than falling into a pit of sounding, looking and feeling like everybody else. A good example is the naming work we once did for a new Fanta flavour, for which we invented a fictional fruit: Sapaya. This catchy trick ensured uniqueness and created room for effective Brand Protection, as it was globally available.

When we started working on naming Coca-Cola's new energy drink, we kept all these previous experiences and learnings in mind. Also, benchmarking and market research highlighted the market's saturation with the typical 'extreme' narratives in energy drink branding. Since the drink offered a true alternative to the typical taurine-based energisers, we decided to explore the possibilities that would take this USP to the next level.

We worked out four directions supported by mood boards: coastal feeling, surf style, fun & joy, and master thrills. All of them evoked freshness, enjoyment, and moments that boost energy naturally — all in line with the new product's characteristics. When Coca-Cola chose to continue with the surf direction, we moved on to the naming process, creating a long list and testing different variations empirically.

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Unique in the food and beverage sector and easy to remember, the name showed great potential for international expansion

Surfing on a sunny day

Riding the big waves evokes feelings of freedom, excitement, and thrill, common for both surfing and the product experience. Working with these associations, we eventually labelled the drink Nalu, which is a Hawaiian word that refers to wave motions. This beverage allows you to escape for a short moment, returning refreshed and motivated to continue. Unique in the food and beverage sector and easy to remember, the name showed great potential for international expansion.


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