We’ve all been witness to auto rebranding during the course of our lives. Some of the most recognizable vehicles on the market become strangers upon the release of a new model. Logos we’ve learned to identify on sight change overnight and leave us confused. Even those mottos, the sayings that stick in our heads or the jingles that become earworms, change from year to year.
How, as marketers and sales professionals, can anyone be sure which rebrands will take off and which will sputter to a stop? Careful planning is necessary, along with plenty of feedback from customers. You can also take a page out of these auto giants’ books. Here are some auto rebrands that really worked.
In the wake of recent recalls that affected thousands of Toyota owners, the company struggled to find a new voice. In the end, they decided not to speak at all. Instead, they gave that voice to the customers through social media efforts.
In 2010, the company’s Facebook page featured a tab labeled “Auto-biography,” where Toyota owners could share stories of their experiences with their car. While not a complete rebrand, the move was a drastic departure from the scripted, over-produced, flashy apologies and image boosters expected in times of crisis.
Why do we love this approach? Toyota stepped back and gave a voice to the people. They showed the world they trusted their own brand enough to let customers talk, and therefore placed their fate in the hands of the consumers. It’s also why Toyota is one of the most Followed brands on Mojo Motors. Talk about some social proof!
Europe had plenty of the brand’s vehicles on the roads, but Fiat was largely unknown here in the States. Before 2010, Fiat was a quirky, vintage car to the general public. Until, of course, the Fiat 500 was re-introduced, fifty years after the first Fiat 500 hit the streets.
With all the buzz around Smart cars and the Mini Cooper, the general public was dying to get their hands on a compact cutie that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Fiat gave us that with the sleek, retro-styled Fiat 500 and quickly became a household name again.
Why do we love this approach? With the resurgence of the Volkswagen Beetle and the introduction of the new Ford Mustang with design elements reminiscent of the ‘60s on the brand’s 50th birthday, we’ve become champions of the retro-redesign. After all, wasn’t that design what made consumers fall in love with the brand in the first place?
Skoda begin as a bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer and didn’t actually become Skoda until 1925. Once the engineering firm of Skoda Plzen AS took over, the cars zoomed into public consciousness everywhere, winning races and awards for years. After the second World War, however, the car’s popularity took a sharp nosedive and languished in “has-been land” for decades. Enter Volkswagen in 1991, and Skoda went from being the butt of many jokes to a truly desired car as VW Group’s entry-level automaker. Though not a major powerhouse like Ford or BMW, Skoda has shown incredible improvement.
Why do we love this overhaul? Volkswagen took a chance on a former winner, and so far, it’s paying off. The Skoda cars resemble VW models in many ways, but consumers can get them for lower prices. The engineering found in Volkswagen is also available in the Skoda, so buyers know exactly what they’re getting. Way to resurrect that prizefighter, VW. Odds are on you for the knockout punch.
Considered a cult classic, the Mini Cooper from the ‘60s is sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike. Though the popularity of the original never really went away, a new excitement for the car began in 2005 when BMW got involved. The classic style was updated without compromising the integrity of the design, the motor was given an overhaul and then came the publicity. Throw in a cameo on the big screen alongside Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron in Italian Job, and the new Mini couldn’t fail.
Why are we fans of the Mini rebrand? As with the Fiat, the manufacturers knew they had a good thing going and didn’t mess with perfection. The redesigned models still hearken back to the good ol’ days, which manages to appease those who love the original while building a new audience among younger drivers. Late-model used Mini Coopers for sale on Mojo Motors are one of the most popular compact vehicles. A win-win, if ever we’ve seen one.
Written by Bill Faeth, CEO and Co-Founder of Inbound Marketing Agents, a full-services digital agency in Nashville, TN. Check out his eBook, Learning SEO from the Experts.