• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

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GMAC is leaving. Here Comes Ally

GMAC consumer and dealer automotive finance arms for GM are being “rebranded” to Ally Bank.

Ally Bank began as a rebranded GMAC bank (non-automotive consumer bank) and changed its name a year or so back to signal “straightforwardness” in banking. The “straightforwardness” brand promise ironic as Ally did all it could to hide the fact that its major stakeholder is the US government, which owns more than 55% of the parent company. Now, as the GM brand continues to falter, the whole of General Motors Acceptance Corporation will now be known as Ally.

Had GMAC come to Stealing Share, we would have said that all GMAC operations should be changed to Ally at once. The reason is simple. If the Ally brand is about straightforwardness and a new direction in banking, then making one, sweeping name change at once is really the best way to fulfill the brand promise. Put the proverbial line in the sand, own up to the past and move past it.

However, what Ally is doing now goes directly against the brand promise of straightforwardness. From the outside in, it looks like brand shenanigans and proof that the Ally brand is not about its customers but about Ally. What I mean by this is that, when GMAC bank changed its name, there were two steps that produced the steps: Some kind of internal pressure to not change the name of the whole of GMAC at the start, then changing the whole of GMAC during a time when GM was getting billions of dollars in bailout money because it would jeopardize the potential success of the Ally brand.

If Ally could not be “straightforward” from the onset, it should have not adopted that theme as its brand.

Therefore, the Ally brand was never about the customer, it was always about GM and how it could best insulate its finance arm from damage. Being straightforward does not mean hiding your structure.  It is really too bad because Ally is actually a very strong name, but GM does not have permission these days to be anyone’s ally – except if you are the US Government, of course.

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