Economics DO Matter for your Brand – Learning from GM

GeneralmotorsbrandofprogressGeneral Motors, the once might house of vehicle brands, is ailing.  Primarily in my opinion from poor economics.  They have been writing checks they can’t cash in the form of expected future growth (pensions, union agreements, etc.) and unrealistic forecasts while stepping away from pricing theory.  The bankruptcy of Adelphia left everyone wondering when GM would fail driving them to actually run ads countering the notion of a GM bankruptcy.  (image info below)

That said, strong brands could have helped GM prevent the pending train wreck futureliner crashThe Rieses have fun with the lack of consistent brand identify of GM product lines in their book "The Origin of Brands".  And Rance Crain is piling on with his latest article in AdAge.com

GM’S REAL BANKRUPTCY IS IN FAILING TO DISTINGUISH BRANDS
Automaker Considers Ad Campaign to Adress Bankruptcy Rumors
January 23, 2006, Rance Crain

General Motors is considering an ad campaign to dispel the widespread notion it might go bankrupt. “As much as I hate to do this, we’re probably going to have to do something proactively on the marketing side just to address that issue,” GM’s marketing boss, Mark LaNeve, told The Wall Street Journal. “How you do that, I don’t know. It’s a tough thing because you really don’t want to go there.”

GM doesn’t need to go there. What it needs to do, in a forceful and surefooted way, is trumpet the new vehicles that are coming on line, talk about how it’s lowering prices across the board to be an attractive buy without incentives, and, in general, act like a winner. And please, no more whining about how it’s got to create a level playing field to compete. (more)

As for the top image, that is a screen shot of a web site that has images of the GM Futureliners from the 1930s linked from BoingBoing and a variety of other blogs.  I chose it because the irony of such forward future thinking crossed with the current situation for GM illustrates where they have stepped away from the heart of the brand.  From http://www.metafilter.com/archived.mefi/12/1/2002:

The GM Futureliner It began with the Streamliner and GM’s 1936 Parade of Progress, the brainchild of inventor Charles F. Kettering. The show was a tremendous success. Redesigned in 1941 and again in 1953, the 12 Futureliners and its band of Paraders were ready to hit the road, set up shop in a town near you, and showcase the marvels of science. Of the original 12 built, 9 have been found, 2 are being used for parts, 1 is for sale, and 1 is being lovingly restored by a group of volunteers. [more inside]
posted by snez at 12:45 PM PST

For those of you interested in the future, consider attending the IABC event in Houston tomorrow with Dr. Peter Bishop.  More info on that in full microformat hCal glory.

Riding the Future’s Waves of Creative Destruction
Dr. Peter C. Bishop Futurist, and Associate Professor in the College of Technology and Coordinator of the graduate program in Futures Studies
University of Houston

Thu 26-Jan-06 11:30 AM to Thu 26-Jan-06 1:00 PM