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Cadillac Vs. GM Vs. Branding

11/03/2010

In my browsing of the web, this story about how Cadillac seems to want to distance itself from the other brands in the GM line up. They obviously must be serious about it as they even have the IT department involved, giving them fancy new email addresses.

The move to give back Cadillac’s perceived brand (or more to the point, brand positioning) freedom is an important and necessary move if they’d actually like to compete for new customers. Handling a luxury brand is an entirely different beast. It thrives on creating differentiation and a quality above others. Very hard to do when you’re surrounded by the other kids in the family.

While it’s nice to finally hear GM is figuring out branding, it’s sad to hear it took them this long to figure out. Personally, I think they lost their way a while ago when they focused on saving money rather than making money. The time when it really showed was all the way back in the 80s when GM forced all of it’s brands to share some really awful platforms yielding the very terrible models that, if not for the badge, would just be average, terrible OldsmoBuicks. People really do notice these thinly veiled cost cutting measures.

Even though GM is a leviathan, I would have hoped they’d have figured this out before now. They have a lot of work to do as GM has to essentially drag the Cadillac brand out of the commodity-priced sludge. To compete with the BMWs and the Lexus brands, they can’t just stop giving out incentives or update the logo, they’ll need to re-tool their entire line.

The hardest part might be that Cadillac will have to ascribe to a far higher quality level than the other GM children. They’ll have to own their own styling department to generate their own look. They’ll need to have their own engines and their own interiors that need to be long on quality, materials, & finish but short of that plasti-leather found in American cars.

I think they have the components to make it work and the models they have are almost there, if they can own the entire process, there is a chance it could work, but GM will have to stick to the plan for a number of years before it will begin to pay off. They have a tough row to hoe, especially with all the managerial moving and shaking going on.

In short, Branding isn’t just changing up your URL or polishing a logo, it’s the everything you do with your company and if you just change your logo design, you’ll just pay people like me a lot of money and get no bump in your business – because customers aren’t dumb – especially when they’re writng a $70,000 check for someting that’s a status symbol and perhaps a car.

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