Can Mazda be truly different now?

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

24 April 2017

Automakers, including Mazda, are in a vicious cycle

There’s no guarantee, of course. But change at Mazda promises a car manufacturer finally breaking out of the industry-wide slump. The Japanese automaker hired Dino Bernacchi from Harley-Davidson as its new Chief Marketing Officer in the US.

MazdaI don’t know Bernacchi at all. But I know his work. Harley-Davidson sports one of the few meaningful brands in the transportation industry, something few car manufacturers present.

“Automakers are among the worst. Including Mazda. Everything looks like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Camry. Every ad shows a car driving down the highway with a voiceover promoting its features.”

Harley-Davidson understands one of the first rules of successful branding. Know who you are for and, more importantly, who you are not for. So many brands believe they must be everything to everybody. They believe that’s how you increase the bottom line.

However, when you do that, you become for nobody. You mean nothing so you are easily ignored. It’s the reason why so much advertising is bland. And why so many brands fail to create preference. The basic consumer reaction is, “Who cares?”

No one, including Mazda, has yet to break the cycle

Automakers are among the worst. Including Mazda. Everything looks like a Honda Civic or a Toyota Camry. Every ad shows a car driving down the highway with a voiceover promoting its features. Features that are just like everyone else’s.

Even worse, car companies trade advertising agencies like they’re at a yard sale. One agency gets fired, and then picked by someone else. The continuous cycle is sheer insanity. How do you expect to be different when you just do the same thing over and over again?

The basic principle of stealing market share is that you’re different and better than your competition. That means you must present a true choice. If you just blend in with the rest, market share remains stagnant.

I’ve had high hopes that, someday, a car manufacturer would align its brand with the aspirational self-reflection of its target audience. A self-reflection that’s different and more meaningful than the competition.

You know, like what Harley-Davidson does. And what Mazda might do now.

See more posts in the following related categories: Harley-Davidson Mazda

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