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February 7, 2007

What Ford Can Learn From Kodak About Brand Naming

From Taurus to 500 to Taurus

ford-five-hundred.gifFord is going to rebrand its ailing Ford Five Hundred as the Taurus, hoping to cash in on the incredible equity of twenty-one year old iconic name.

The move has been initiated by new Ford CEO Alan Mulally who clearly saw the folly in discontinuing the brand name, Taurus, that resurrected Ford and led to sales of 7 million cars with the introduction of a radical new design (sometimes fondly dubbed the “jellybean” or the “flying potato”) that eclipsed the Honda Accord and made it seem as if America could actually defend its own turf against the imports.

One of the reasons the company dropped the Taurus name (aside from the fact that sales were declining) was because it did not start with an “F” (go figure), and because it was so closely associated with the Hertz brand name.

And while it’s nice to see the Taurus brand name come back to us, Chris Shunk asks, simply, “In the end, what's more important, a great name or a great product?” and the conclusion is that both matter but a good name works best when it is associated with a product customers really love. The Taurus brand name was badly tarnished because by the end of the last century the cars were stale, just like the Ford Five Hundred is.

Why not improve the car’s engine and its design and make it worthy of the brand name that saved the company and that was, frankly, such a joy to drive? If you want to hold on to the same product naming for twenty years (Civic, Corolla, Camry, and Accord), you have to offer noticeable improvements on the platform year by year, not simply slap the name of a once hot car on today’s non-starter.

Learning from Kodak

kodak-printer.gifA good example of keeping a brand name fresh by attaching it to new technology and products might be the recent announcement that Kodak is getting into the printer business with the Kodak EasyShare All-In-One Printers.

Kodak is going to take on printer giant HP simply by offering users what they have always wanted: cheap ink. Right now, it costs more than champagne. In fact, a swimming pool of the stuff would cost you a cool $5.9 billion.

Kodak’s print cartridges will be half the cost of HPs and won’t expire in your lifetime. This will not only breathe new life into the home printer industry, it will ensure that the EasyShare brand name is fresh and new for years to come.

Revolutionary product + trusted product name = great brand.

Are you watching, Ford?

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Posted by William Lozito at February 7, 2007 9:33 AM
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