Re-Branding Chrysler

It’s been high up in the news columns of late – the U.S. car company Chrysler is being split off from its unfortunate marriage to the German company Daimler, and will return to its status as an unwed manufacturer. In fact, the Cerberus Capital Management purchase will give Chrysler a very interesting opportunity – re-asserting the Chrysler brand into the marketplace, unfettered by its Daimler connection and “Dr Z” messaging.

Chrysler has had a very up-and-down, cyclical market experience. After its near-death brush with bankruptcy, it swung back by introducing the minivan. It has had some market hits (“cab-forward” car design – remember that? and Jeep, of course), and it has had unprofitable seasons. The jury is definitely still out on whether it can overcome some of its legacy cost disadvantages and compete in the market, against the slow, steady, successful onslaught of Asian brands.

Here is Business Week’s take on the challenge that Chrysler faces.

But now, it can at least re-launch itself as a company. So, readers, put on your thinking caps. If you were given the responsibility of creating a new marketing message for Chrysler, what would it be? What theme(s) would you choose? How would you appeal to a (perhaps) skeptical market? Would you emphasize engineering? Design? Patriotic themes? How would you position Chrysler in the marketplace? What tagline(s) would you suggest? Fill the comment section with your ideas, and let’s come up with an ad-hoc campaign right now!

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Author: Steve Woodruff (19 Articles)

Steve Woodruff launched his consulting practice (Impactiviti LLC) in 2006, working with clients to create branding that sticks. StickyFigure, a division of Impactiviti, specializes in helping small and mid-sized businesses that are seeking to make greater impact in their marketplace, but do not have the internal resources to brand themselves effectively. We also partner with larger organizations that need to borrow a fresh creative perspective. Steve also actively consults in the training/communications field, with a particular focus on healthcare and pharmaceuticals; and he serves as VP Communications on the Board of a local ASTD (American Society of Training and Development) chapter in NJ. LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/swoodruff

Comments

  1. I would concentrate on design and a superior dealership experience.

  2. I don’t think I would so much re-brand them as improve on the existing brand. I believe they have superior designers, but their dealerships have a lot to be desired. I would over-haul a lot of their customer service components including pre-sale, post-sale, outside of warranty etc. In many ways I think Chrysler is wrapped in the traditional “Big 3″ coat and the faster it is identified as more than just North American the better. I agree with the new owner’s global identity.

    Chrysler Canada is based here in this city (Windsor, Ontario). We are aware of Chrysler’s pulse daily. If they take customer service as seriously as design I think they’d have something powerful.

  3. My initial thought is freedom and the joy it brings. If I were Chrysler, I’d be wanting to celebrate the Freedom to be ourselves again. Free of the stranglehold of an overseas based, conservative and stuffy big brother. Free to dream. Free to innovate. Free to inspire. Free to be different.

    A tagline I’d try throwing around would start out as:

    Chry For Joy!

    Communicates the Freedom and Joy of the new Chrysler of today. And the Freedom and Joy associated with driving a Chrysler machine. Just a starting point… and probably one of many.

  4. Len, think about the car you drive. Did you buy it because of corporate circumstance or how it matched your personality?

    I drive a Honda and frankly I don’t have the slightest interest in the corporate makeup of Honda. I enjoy the way I am treated by Honda much as I am also blown away by Apple’s brand. Discover why Chrysler is in the shape it is. I don’t think it is based on who owns it. Let’s face it Daimler is doing quite well. Starting with a tagline is just spin, you must get to the heart of the brand. Improve the relationship with real experiences that compell the customer to love you.

  5. Good discussion points! Jim, you’ve touched on one of the main issues – I think Chrysler, as a company, has an identity issue (too many identities, without one overarching message/identity that sticks).

    And, Ed, you could not be more right about the customer experience. Ultimately, that is the “final exam” – unless they build attachment by a superior way of handling customers, all fixes will be short-term. Now there is a leadership and change management challenge!

    (as an aside, Ed, 7 years ago I bought a Mazda instead of a Honda, the rejection of an Accord based one small but very important thing – the driver couldn’t adjust the height of the seatbelt in that model, and it would be pressing down on my shoulder for an hour-long commute. Sometimes it’s stuff like that which can negatively impact an otherwise very positive brand!)

  6. Jim Lane says:

    First of all, when you talk about Chrysler, you are talking about several actual brands. Very few people think of their Jeeps or Dodges in “Chrysler” terms. Each one of these will have to have some re-branding done, so unless you are talking about the Chrysler car brand specifically, this is all hot wind.

    So, what are you actually asking in your question? The one brand or the family of brands?

  7. I strongly believe that the re-branding of Chrysler has to start with the most basic foundation strategies, and in order to tell a convincing brand story, before all else, I think it’s very important that Chrysler itself celebrates the freedsom they now have to take the company in whatever direction they desire. There’s some real potential to things freshen up initially, and then build from there. The article encouraged us readers to put forth their ideas and try out some taglines, which is what I did. If that’s not how you’d approach it then I fully respect that.

  8. I strongly believe that the re-branding of Chrysler has to start with the most basic foundation strategies, and in order to tell a convincing brand story, before all else, I think it’s very important that Chrysler itself celebrates the freedom they now have to take the company in whatever direction they desire. There’s some real potential to freshen things up initially, and then build from there. The article encouraged us readers to put forth ideas and try out some taglines, which is what I did. If that’s not how you’d approach it then I fully respect that.

  9. Sumitra Menon says:

    Reminds me of an article i read on Sramana Mitra’s blog! Dominique Trempont, an American corporate executive, in his series on design, analyzes how the of a brand touches the sensitivity of the target consumers.

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