Branding Iron: Branding Lessons from the Meltdown of the US Auto Industry


Toyota will soon displace General Motors as the world’s largest automaker. Since 2000, GM’s market cap fell from $66 billion to $15 billion. In 1980 GM sold 45 of every 100 cars that rolled out of showrooms in the U.S. It now sells 26. By any yardstick, that is a crisis. The root cause of this financial cataclysm mystifies many of the players in the industry. But the numbers tell a clear story. The headlines offer a simplistic interpretation. Or, worse, incomplete and myopic—the same kind of myopia that created ...
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Toyota will soon displace General Motors as the world’s largest automaker. Since 2000, GM’s market cap fell from $66 billion to $15 billion. In 1980 GM sold 45 of every 100 cars that rolled out of showrooms in the U.S. It now sells 26. By any yardstick, that is a crisis. The root cause of this financial cataclysm mystifies many of the players in the industry. But the numbers tell a clear story. The headlines offer a simplistic interpretation. Or, worse, incomplete and myopic—the same kind of myopia that created the problem in the first place. Like many a crisis, this one has been brewing for decades. And the cost-cutting quick fixes proposed by many industry ""experts"" won’t solve it. Why not? Because it’s not the root cause. What is killing US automakers is their inability to attract growing numbers of customers to its numerous brands, many of which seem almost irrelevant today. In a few words: bad brand management. What makes a world-class brand? The authors describe great brands as ""a promise wrapped in an experience."" The best brands make a strong, clear commitment to stand for something, to do it better than anyone else, and orchestrate the entire ownership experience. This requires a level of courage beyond most executives. With wit and humor, Branding Iron uses lessons from the car business to guide readers in every business on a quest to build a world-beating brand that leaves a real mark, one made the old-fashioned way—burned in with a red hot iron. The authors do the tough analysis and ask tough questions that most Boards of Directors should be asking, and they give even tougher answers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933199047
  • Publisher: Racom Communications
  • Publication date: 10/1/2008
  • Pages: 263
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlie Hughes is one of the few men alive who has created a car company that's still in business. As founder and CEO of Range Rover of North America, which became Land Rover North America, he built a car company from scratch, beginning in 1986 with an investment of $7.5 million. Eight years later, this had grown to a market value of $200,000,000. During his career he has worked for six automakers on eleven different brands, including Cadillac, AMC, Jeep, Fiat, Lancia, Ferrari, Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Range Rover, Land Rover, and Mazda. He headed three different automotive marketing groups and was CEO of two auto companies. Today, Hughes heads a marketing consulting consortium, Brand Rules. As its founding president, he describes the firm's mission simply: "In an over-branded marketplace, we help you learn what sets you and your company apart…and how to cut yourself out of the herd." William Jeanes has spent more than three decades closely associated with the auto industry. After three years as feature editor at Car and Driver, he spent a decade in advertising, first as a copywriter at Campbell-Ewald (Chevrolet's ad agency), then at SSC&B:Lintas (where he became a senior vice president) and later at J. Walter Thompson/Detroit as a senior vice president and director of the Ford Division account. In 1985 he returned to writing. His articles have appeared in a score of the world's automotive publications and in Sports Illustrated, American Heritage, AARP The Magazine, Smithsonian Air & Space, Playboy, Parade, and The New York Times. In 1987, he became editor-in-chief of Car and Driver. During his six years as editor, he appeared regularly on "CBS ThisMorning" as its automotive expert, and his weekly radio commentary on Detroit’s WJR reached 19 states. In 1993, he became a senior vice president and group publisher at Hachette Filipacchi Magazines. He was the founding editor of AMI Auto World Weekly, the first U.S. automotive magazine aim

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Table of Contents

Foreword     1
Acknowledgements     3
About the Authors     7
Introduction     9
Dead Brand Tales and The Evil of Conventional Wisdom     14
Conventional Wisdom     15
"Product Is King"     16
"Customers Are Smart"     17
"Let's Research It"     17
"Advertising Sells"     18
"You Can Charge More for a Brand-Name Product"     20
"The More You Pay, the Better the Product"     21
"More Expensive Brands Are Higher Quality"     21
"Adding Brands Creates More Synergies"     22
Proliferation, Fragmentation, and Ego     23
The Briefest of Automotive Primers     24
Dealer Body     25
Nameplates and Models     25
Platforms     26
Badge Engineering     27
The Brand Portfolio     29
Oldsmobile: Centennial and Funeral     30
The Plymouth Saga     34
The Evil of Conventional Wisdom     37
The Market     39
The Test of Perspective     39
The Story of Saturn     40
How the Marketplace Works     43
Conventional Wisdom     44
Trends Founded on Contradictions     45
Brand Distinctiveness/Brand Portfolio     46
More Choice/Less Choice     47
High Growth/Low Reality     48
Brand Value/Insane Discounting     49
Low Risk/High Reward     52
The Brand Triangle[superscript sm]     53
Testing Your Courage     58
Differentiate     60
The Test of Vision     60
A "Mini" Case Study     60
Conventional Wisdom     63
Dangerous Trends     64
More Choice/Less Choice     64
Dialogue Marketing     65
Visions of Outcomes     65
The Newest New Things     67
How to Set Yourself Apart     67
Your Imagination     70
Choose Your Customers... Wisely     70
Define Your Brand Unequivocally     74
The Allure of Authenticity     77
A Different Ending     80
Culture     81
The Test of Engagement     81
How to Build a Culture in One Week     82
Conventional Wisdom     90
Trends     91
Downsizing and Outsourcing     91
Industry Consolidation     92
Brand Portfolios     92
There's No "I" in Team     93
How to Brand a Culture     94
Legacy Cultures     95
Burning Your Brand into a Culture     98
Vision     98
Values     99
Focus     100
A Happy Ending     100
Product     103
The Test of Skill     103
Song of the GTO     104
Conventional Wisdom     107
Trends     107
Brand Portfolios ... Platform Sharing     108
Globalization ... Localization     109
The Fraying of Newness ... Number of Introductions ...     110
Pace of Change ... Fast Tech/Slow Tech     110
The Skill Test Called Product     111
Excellence and Character     112
The Platform Trade-off     113
How We Build Cars     114
A Disciplined Approach     115
Your Look     118
Quality ... Striving to Get It Right     120
The Voice of the Customer     122
Never-ending Questions     124
Conspiracy     126
The Test of Inclusion     126
The Land Rover Centre Conspiracy     127
Conventional Wisdom     137
Trends     138
Downsizing, Outsourcing, and Insourcing     139
Proliferation and Fragmentation     139
The Work Treadmill     139
Building a Conspiracy-Who's on Your Team?     140
The Power of Respect     141
The Conflict of Interests     143
How Not to Build a Conspiracy     144
How to Form a Good Conspiracy     145
The Power of Zealotry     146
Consistency     148
The Test of Will     148
The Inconsistency of Jaguar     149
Conventional Wisdom     153
Trends     154
Management Turnover     154
Too Much Choice     155
Too Much Noise     156
The Power of Consistency     157
Designing the Experience ... All of It     157
Brand     159
Culture     160
Product     162
Retail     162
Necessary Constants: Vision and Leadership     165
Transparency of Communication     166
Your Personality and Your Tone of Voice     167
Price vs. Value      168
Creative Consistency     171
Passion     173
The Test of Emotion     173
The Story of Helmut Bott     174
Conventional Wisdom     176
Trends     177
Consolidation and Culture Takeovers     177
Death of the Entrepreneurial Spirit     178
Growth Mania ...     179
Risk Aversion ...     180
Demographics ...     180
Globalization ... New Entrepreneurs, New Workers     181
Now You See It ... Now You Don't ...     181
How to Generate Energy, Enthusiasm, and Expertise     183
Expertise: The Art of Selection     183
Enthusiasm: Selling and Storytelling     184
Energy: Environment and Chemistry     185
An Impassioned Conclusion     187
Patience     189
The Test of Conviction     189
Nissan-the Irrational Discounter     190
Conventional Wisdom     192
Trends     193
Customer Value vs. Shareholder Value     193
Growth vs. Reality     194
The Power of Patience     195
Patience Means ...     196
Leadership ... the Courage of Your Convictions      197
Time to Make It Work     199
Markets Change, Brands Evolve     201
An Enduring Conclusion     202
Brand Portfolios     203
A Test of Parenting     203
Pontiac's Sad Case History     204
Conventional Wisdom     208
Trends     209
Consolidation     209
Brutal Competition     210
Cost Reduction Pressure     211
Low Risk/High Reward     212
Supermarket Brands     212
The Smart "Smart" Customer     213
Not Enough Talent     214
A Brand Portfolio Primer     214
Brand Charter     215
The Three Keys     217
Differentiation: Dare to Be Different, or Be Generic     217
Culture: Who We Are and How We Do Things     219
Product: Choose between Distinct and Extinct     222
Conspiracy: Who Wants to Be, Who Needs to Be, on the Inside     223
Consistency: Whoever You Are, Be That Everywhere     224
Passion: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Expertise     227
Patience: Having the Courage of Your Convictions     228
Putting It All Together     229
Fixing Ford and GM-Some Modest Proposals     230
Conventional Wisdom     231
The Reality of the Situation     231
Forbes Global 2000     232
First, What about General Motors?     233
Ford: Is There a Solution for Anyone?     236
Brands to Build     237
Brands to Discard     238
Disposing of Winning Brands     239
The New Brand Portfolio     240
Culture     241
Product     243
Retail     246
What's Stopping Ford?     247
Steel in Your Britches     249
Perspective     250
Leadership     252
Culture     253
Courage     254
Index     256
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