The Secret to Building a 65 Billion Dollar Personal Brand

Soft drink on wooden table and men sitting

The following is a quote by an executive from within the Coca-Cola company.

“If Coca-Cola were to lose all of its production-related assets in a disaster, the company would survive. By contrast, if all consumers were to have a sudden lapse of memory and forget everything related to Coca-Cola, the company would go out of business.”

In other words, if you were to burn down all of the factories, remove the product from all of the stores, and shred the secret formula, Coke would be able to rebuild their business. But if you were to merely strip us all of the memories we have that are related to Coca-Cola, the business would fail.

Remember the Pepsi Challenge?

In the early 1980s, Pepsi released a television ad campaign called The Pepsi Challenge. The idea was simple. Randomly invite people to blindly taste two different types of cola and choose the one they liked the best.

Their choices were Coke or Pepsi.

The Pepsi Challenge and How it Relates to the Personal Brand Secret

The campaign was legendary at the time and as a result, the ads went viral. Or at least as viral as any commercial could go back in 1983 before we discovered the Internet and our love for cat videos.

Do you know who won? (Spoiler Alert)


And do you know who had a larger share of the market at the time and still does to this day?

You guessed it. Coke.

How is that possible? How can a majority of us believe that Pepsi is the better choice when tested blindly but then choose Coke when we’re at the store voting with our wallets?

This is How Coke Won the Cola Wars

Years after The Pepsi Challenge was decided there was a scientific study that was done by Dr. Read Montague in an effort to test the effects of Coke versus Pepsi on brain activity. When people were blindly asked to taste each cola and choose the one they liked better, Pepsi had a slight advantage.

Just like the original ad campaign.

However, when the same people were asked to taste the same amount of each cola but were told which one they were drinking, they overwhelmingly chose Coke.

Research revealed that being shown the Coke label stimulated parts of the brain that dealt with memory, cultural identity and self-image. Seeing the Coke label brought back memories of your first date when you shared a Coke at the movie theater, growing up drinking a Coke with Dad after you helped him mow the lawn, celebrating your team winning the SuperBowl in between heartwarming Coke ads, taking the day off from work and having a picnic with your kids and drinking a Coke, going out to a romantic dinner with your spouse at a restaurant that serves Coke, and all of the other memories you had throughout your life that involved a “Coke and a Smile.”

What Are Those Memories Worth?

At the end of the day, we’re willing to overlook the brand we think tastes better for the brand that actually means something to us. The brand that touches us.

The brand that creates memories.

And because of that, the Coca-Cola brand alone is worth 65 billion dollars. That’s billion. With a b. Here’s what that looks like in numbers and commas and stuff:


That’s nearly half of their market value. In other words, nearly half of what the company is currently worth is an invisible feeling we all get when we see their product.

Here’s a Scary Question for You

Let’s shift the subject a bit from a sugary syrup that can remove the paint from a car to something a little more personal.

You and your brand. More specifically, your personal brand.

What if you were to lose everything right now? I’m talking about your money, clients, job, website, business, location, email list, intellectual property, systems, products, and employees.

Everything. Poof. Gone.

Would you be able to rebuild? Or would you be out of business for good? And if you could rebuild, how long would it take to be able to get back to where you are right now?

That question might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, but I actually have some good news for you. While, you may not be able to compete with the billions of dollars companies like Coke spend in advertising on an annual basis, you do have one advantage over them.

You’re human.

And that means people have the ability to connect with you and fall in love with you in a way that most companies and products can’t compete with. At least not without spending a few billion dollars each year in advertising. And when we fall in love with another human, we tend to buy their products and services. Regardless of what they are.

Think about it.

We’ll buy a book that JK Rowling writes without knowing what it’s about. We’ll go to the movie starring Tom Hanks without reading the reviews. We’ll order wine from Gary Vaynerchuk without tasting a drop. We’ll pre-order a car from Elon Musk knowing that it might be years before we get to drive it. And we’ll buy the new Taylor Swift album before ever hearing any of the songs.

It has nothing to do with the product and everything to do with the people behind the product.

That Brings Us to the 65 Billion Dollar Question

How do you get people to connect with you and fall in love with your personal brand in such a way that you can future-proof your business and never have to worry about that scary question again?


The same way Coke has been able to build a 65 billion dollar brand selling a beverage that can remove oil stains from your driveway.

Create memories.

That’s it. If you want people to fall hopelessly in love with your brand, just create memories. Create experiences. Create adventures. Create value. Create feelings. Create excitement. Create wins. Create goodwill. Create community. Create stories. Create emotion. Create fascination.

Create love.

Every single day. With no strings attached.

Because if you do that consistently over time, you will build a personal brand that is powerful enough to lose The Pepsi Challenge and still win the Cola Wars.