Automotive: February 2008 Archives

Hummer and Camel Reposition Their Brand Identity

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If your brand name starts to look unfashionable, the thing to do is relaunch it with some subtle differences.

The Camel cigarette brand has recently gotten its first makeover in a century, with revamped packaging that includes the words "Since 1913" and the tagline "Our best smoke ever" on direct marketing materials. At least they have kept Joe Camel in the crypt.
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GM, on the other hand, has decided to focus attention away from the Hummer’s brand name by not only shrinking the car, but focusing on each vehicle’s alphanumeric code (H2, H3, H4). GM has also directed consumer’s attention to the utility of the vehicle with its new tagline "Purpose Built."SCOOTER+HUMMER.gif

In order to further distance itself from consumers who believe that it is a gas guzzling behemoth, GM has been shrinking the SUV as well, leading Oberdan Bezzi to design a Hummer Scooter, or the H2 450.

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Ford Offers a Global Brand Naming Fiesta

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The news that Ford is bringing back the Fiesta at the Geneva Motor Show in March, has been greeted with much joy. The Fiesta is one of Ford’s better brand naming choices.
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Introduced in 1976 (pictured left), it has stood the test of time in Europe, Asia, South Africa, Australia and the Americas but died a quick death in the US in the mid eighties, replaced by the Festiva.

This move by Ford also illustrates an example of truly global product naming strategy as well as forward thinking engineering. The Fiesta is actually a reincarnation of the Verve concept car, making it the most sophisticated Fiesta ever.
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The idea here is obviously to create an equivalent brand name to the Toyota Corolla (pictured right), or the VW Golf, both of which are known worldwide.

While some grumble that the Verve name had a certain appeal, Ford seems to be betting on the fact that its US target market will not remember the Fiesta name from twenty years ago while those across the pond will appreciate a revamp of a trusted brand.
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This is a great move by Ford. The Fiesta (the 2009 model pictured left) has sold over 12 million units worldwide and the brand spanking new car will offer plenty of competition to established brands. One important strategic element for Ford to survive is to embrace global brand naming, following the lead of its Japanese and European competitors.

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When are Brands Refreshed and Revived?

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I am always interested in the nuances of revamping a company’s brand naming or product naming. Fact is, a lot of the big branding news this year has come from brands that have updated their images, or changed them altogether.
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The fashion world is busy bringing back names from yesteryear. I have already written about Halston making its USA comeback, now it seems in London, Ossie Clark (actress Sienna Miller pictured right in an Ossie Clark dress) and Nutters, from the sixties, are back on the catwalk.

The New York Times suggests that even the mafia could use some rebranding. And often age or changing tastes do create room for a brand refresh.
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But the biggest reason that brand names we love get changed is acquisition. Honest Tea is soon to fall under Coke's control and that will affect how customers perceive it, which will, whether the company likes it or not, change the perception of Honest Tea from alternative to mainstream.

The one brand that is begging to be rebranded is Ford Mercury, or “the love that dare not speak its name” according to Robert Farago. It has to either be totally rebranded or else simply killed.

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DetroitElectric1915.gifI think that it is great news that the Detroit Electric Car brand name will see light again after a hundred year absence, even if the first offices will actually be in California.

The reintroduction of a car carrying the brand name favored by the likes of Thomas Edison and John D Rockerfeller Jr. is a joint venture between US electric car company ZAP and China Youngman Automotive Group.

The Zap Alias model will carry the Detroit Electric Car brand naming. The company’s base in California will help solidify that state as the heart of alternative energy cars, especially electric cars. I do have to wonder if anyone finds it funny that the Detroit name will be appended to a company that really has nothing to do with Motown, but I am always pleased to see a classic name make a comeback.ZAP-Alias-Electric-Car.gif

I’ve said it before: you just can’t kill a good brand.

Possibly the name of the new company will remind car buyers that electric cars were once very popular in the US and not seen as alternatives at all.

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