Volkswagen Brand Repair
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
17 January 2018
Where does Volkswagen stand now?
Brand repair often represents a daunting task because it means changing a belief system that exists in the market. That you stink. Volkswagen, after acknowledging that its vehicles cheat on emissions tests, sold only 339,676 vehicles in the US last year.
That lags far behind General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Honda.
So how does Volkswagen rebound? Hinrich Woebcken, the new CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, tells reporters at this week’s Automotive News World Congress that it’s to…build more SUVs.
Now, before we blast that strategy (actually a tactic) into submission, Mr. Woebcken says this is about ramping up its operations to level the playing field with its competitors. SUVs are enjoying surprising strong sales and VW is certainly lagging behind.
In addition, Woebcken and his team are taking the first step in making the VW brands more appealing to today’s customer. By making everything simpler. The new SUV calls itself Atlas, a three-row SUV that eschews using a garbled name. Woebcken says VW is moving away from “the typically German name…breaking the tongue.” So no more Tiguan or Touareg.
“But that’s just one step in brand repair. The word brand repair itself explains what else needs to be done. Repairing the Volkswagen brand itself.”
Volkswagen needs to do more to repair its brand
But that’s just one step in brand repair. The word brand repair itself explains what else needs to be done. Repairing the Volkswagen brand itself. It has to contain more meaning than just simply a lineup of vehicles. Evening the playing field is nice and all. But that only gets you onto the table of antes.
True preference develops from aligning your brand with a belief system that exists in the market and is the most emotionally intensive belief (in context of the industry) that you can claim. How should VW drivers define themselves now? What does it mean to be a VW driver that’s different and better than anyone else?
A quick tip: The simplicity of the name Atlas provides a clue. Volkswagen could be about simplicity, if it is important to the market. But it would mean making everything – from its operations to its marketing – about simplicity.
Not a simple thing to do.
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