Automotive: December 2011 Archives

Play With Your Brand Naming At Your Own Risk

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GoodyearNamingAds.pngI found an interesting article today that highlights how companies are playing with their brand names and logos to engage customers.

Much of what is covered in the article I have written about before, such as the Snickers Snacklish campaign, where the company played with the English language itself, creating words like "Peanutopolis" and "Nougatocity."

Goodyear, not to be outdone, has temporarily replaced its name with "Whoa Nelly" in some of its ads, and even used "Saint Bernard" in its ads for snow tires.

The article quotes one marketing professor saying "As you see the market changes and your brand feeling old in the minds of consumers, you want to modernize your brand to make it feel current. It's a challenging task because any time you do that, you risk alienating your current customers."

This is partly the fault of social media, partly the fault of computer graphics programs that allow people to play with brand names anyway they wish.

Companies are realizing that consumers want to have a say in the logo and even the name. They want to be part of the entire evolution of the brand.

The question that this leads to, in my mind, is how playing with the name affects the image of the brand in the consumer's mind.

At least one blogger has some interesting thoughts on this question. Essentially saying that it comes down to the fact that changing the brand identity affects current consumers differently than new consumers.

IconicBrands.pngIt's no surprise that new consumers seem to embrace the change, while old consumers, not so much.

This is seen when a brand goes iconic... when it drops the name altogether in the logo, like Starbucks and Apple.

In short, only a few companies with hugely well known brands can either alter their brand name in their advertising or drop it altogether.

It is an interesting phenomena to watch from a distance, but I think the overall principles of naming and branding still apply to 99% of brands.

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SRT Viper Sheds Dodge Brand Name

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SRTViper.jpgIt is not surprising that the 2013 SRT Viper will shed the Dodge name and become the halo car for Chrysler's now stand-alone SRT brand.

The Viper will essentially become the face of the SRT brand and be built in the U.S. by hand, sharing no parts with Maserti or Ferrari.

It is also the first SRT branded product.

MotorAuthority assured readers that the Viper will "continue to be a serious, performance-focused driver's car without the dilution of more practical, mundane concerns that might be introduced if it were not under the sole dominion of the boutique brand."

This is exactly the positioning Chrysler would want. The SRT brand name allows room for the company to build car lovers' cars.

Is this true?

Well, I didn't perceive the old Dodge Vipers as being a type of family car. But the SRT moniker gives it even more cred.

Car and Driver weighed in on subject, stating "As long as the brute is powered by a heart-stoppingly powerful V-10, then we don't particularly care what it's called."

The brand name change allows for those who are into fast cars to get what they want, while those who are more brand conscious also get a boutique-style bonus.

Jalopnik came to an interesting realization stating, "let me get this straight - since Fiat's taken over they've now added three new brand sales channels? Yes, the Italians are monuments to efficiency, aren't they?"

Well, yes.

The Dodge brand has been greatly streamlined, thank you. Look at the way they have moved Ram away from the brand and now created a space for American sports car lovers to invest in a super brand.

DodgeCar.jpg

The SRT brand strategy is actually very European.

As KickingTires points out, "SRT works similarly to BMW's M brand or Mercedes' AMG brand. Models like the 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 or Chrysler 300 SRT8 feature race-inspired performance parts and exterior/interior looks."

Selling everything from family cars to trucks to high-end sports cars all under the Dodge nameplate would sacrifice identity for efficiency, so in fact this is a wise branding move.


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Chrysler Resurrects Dart Brand Name

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Dodge Dart.jpgI am pleased to see that Chrysler's Dodge brand is bringing back yet another well loved name from the past.

The Dart, a new four-door compact sedan that we will see at next month's North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

It's a modern vehicle that is built upon a Fiat architecture that will have "eye-catching exterior proportions set off from every angle by dynamic lines and curves, along with advanced technology, to deliver class-leading aerodynamic performance."

In other words, do not expect a retro car.

Dodge has created a teaser site for the car and it is a far cry from the boxy "Swinger" car of the 1960s.

People generally remember the Dart as a street racer the kids used to amp up in their spare time.

The Dart came in many manifestations from 1960 to 1976, including the Swinger version, as well as the 1968 Slant Six version, known for its endurance and trustworthiness.

One Chrysler executive stated, "The Dart is one of the more positive names in Chrysler's brand-portfolio history. Also, anybody under 40 isn't going to remember Dart and that helps them because they are about to create something new."

This is a very Italian looking car, part of Chrysler's aggressive bid to get into the competitive midsize industry.

The Dart brand name is clearly the replacement for the Hornet name that Chrysler discontinued last month.

I think that the Dart brand is a better fit for such a sporty car. I also agree that very few young people will remember the original Dart, a car that they might only be familiar with from the very cool TV show Mad Men.

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