The contour bottle, spencerian script logo and bold red color come together to create the iconic look of Coca-Cola. And since 2007, five happy musical notes have complemented the brand’s eye-catching visual identity with an ear-catching melody.

Here are five little-known facts about Coke’s hummable, instantly recognizable sonic signature:

1.       Happy Beginnings: The notes first appeared in “Happiness Factory,” a 2006 TV commercial and online film imagining the whimsical, animated world inside a Coca-Cola vending machine. The award-winning spot, which spawned several sequels in the years that followed, came to life through brilliant animation and a cinematic soundscape. “In 2007, as we were developing the ‘Open Happiness’ campaign, we wanted an audio branding device similar to the ones used by McDonald’s and Intel,” explains Nick Felder, Coke’s global director of film and music production. “We went through our existing library of music assets, and it quickly became obvious that the hook we were looking for could be found in the spine of the melody of the ‘Happiness Factory’ score, which was running in every market.” The team distilled the 15-note melody from the film to a five-note mneumonic, then tested it with different instruments and in different keys and tempos. One of the first Coke TV spots to feature the new signature was “Share the Love.” The five notes can be heard punched on a telephone keypad at the end of the 2007 ad.
2.       ‘Pop’ Charts: The “Open Happiness” single, which featured Cee-Lo Green, Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy, Brendon Urie of Panic at the Disco, Travis McCoy of Gym Class Heroes and Grammy-nominated songstress Janelle Monae, was the first original song to include the melody. The uplifting collaboration was released in 2009, and 24 versions were recorded in different languages and released in more than 30 countries. Since then, the five notes have been featured in literally hundreds of Coca-Cola anthems, including Mark Ronson and Katy B’s “Anywhere in the World,” which anchored the “Move to the Beat campaign” for the London 2012 Olympic Games, One Night Only’s “Can You Feel it Tonight” from 2011, and holiday-themed tracks from 2010 (Train’s “Shake Up Christmas”), 2011 (Natasha Bedingfield’s mutilingual take on the same tune) and 2012 (“Something in the Air”, performed by Grayson Sanders, Lauriana Mae and Jono). The melody provides a full bar of recognizable music that fits easily into most pop time signatures, opening the door to genre-spanning adaptations around the world.
3.       A Universal Anthem: The most successful use of the melody, to date, was K’Naan’s “Wavin Flag.” Coke’s anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa topped the charts in 17 countries and created a festive call to action for football fans to chant and sing during matches. “When the song would play in stadiums, crowds would spontaneously shout the chorus in the form of a cheer,” Felder says. “The first time we realized the song would go viral was when we saw a cell phone video on YouTube of the Brazilian football team psyching themselves up before a match by singing the five-note melody on a stadium concourse in Rio.”
4.       Fans First: Consumers around the world have expressed their love for both Coca-Cola and music by posting and sharing their own interpretations of the melody on YouTube and other social media channels. Take a look at a few highlights.
5.       Instrumental Insight: Coca-Cola songs, ads and other creative applications have used various musical instruments and sound effects to create the melody. At subway stations in Japan, for example, the notes alert passengers to an approaching train. “The only thing we haven’t done is put lyrics behind it,” says Joe Belliotti, Coke’s director of global entertainment marketing. “We talked about it a few times, but always decided it sounded too phony or too forced. Our goal has always been to embed the melody into pop culture without overly branding it or turning it into a Coca-Cola jingle.”
Coke and Music Dealers recently launched “52 Songs of Happiness,” which will invite emerging artists from around the world to submit tracks including the five-note Coca-Cola melody while staying true to their authentic sound. The program supports Coca-Cola Placelists, a social music app hosted on Spotify. Looking ahead, the melody will be heard in the brand’s samba/baile funk-inspired anthem for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.