Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
15 May 2018
The Schwinn brand needs to change its brand architecture
This post on the Schwinn brand is written by Stealing Share brand strategist Mark Dougherty
Many moons ago, I was a young boy in Hopewell, NJ. It was a cozy town with cute houses where the movie IQ with Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan was filmed. Each day after school — and even prior — my friends and I sat atop our mountain bikes. We race through town, prowl through the woods, construct makeshift jumps and compete for the lengthiest skid mark. (All sans a helmet, mind you.) As my parents were younger and still seeking their professions, I was the kid in the group with the Huffy Stalker. Boy, in those days, I would have given anything to be paired with a Schwinn brand bike.
Schwinn, to me and my gaggle of compadres, served as the peak brand of bikes. I coveted every Schwinn out there, making me detest my clunky Stalker all the more. And the guys who rode them knew they owned the goods. They rode like kings, while the rest of us were just posers. To this day, I’ll never consider Huffy bikes sporting any value. Schwinn still feels like a majesty of the trails. Even if its brand thwarts that.
Since the days of my youth, Schwinn has developed two brands of bikes. One, deemed Schwinn Signature, is a high-end ride available at boutique shops. (This is the Schwinn I remember well.) Schwinn Quality Bikes sell at mass retail outlets.
“Quality Bikes serves as an entry point of many bikers, so Schwinn obviously wants bikers to associate their bikes with the brand. If that’s the strategy, there is a better way.”
Why put the Schwinn brand on the low-cost bike?
Why would Schwinn cheapen its prestigious brand name with a low-cost brand? The short answer is that the Quality Bikes brand is a fighter brand, meant to keep any low-cost brands from taking market share. It’s a common brand practice, but it takes the shine off the Schwinn brand.
To be truly effective, the fighter brand of Quality Bikes shouldn’t even have the Schwinn name on it. (Think what GM once did with Saturn.) What’s the purpose of using the Schwinn name on the low-cost bicycle?
Quality Bikes serves as an entry point for many bikers, so Schwinn obviously wants bikers to associate their bikes with the brand. If that’s the strategy, there is a better way. Something as simple as, “Possible Name” by Schwinn, is an improvement over its now schizophrenic setup.
Its a funny thing, but seeing the Schwinn brand used like this makes me sad. For me, it’s an institution as rooted in my being as Coca-Cola or Campbell’s soup. I want the brand to win this, right the ship and make the Schwinn brand royalty once again.
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