A few years ago I was listening to a marketing and personal development trainer. I respect this individual a great deal, but he said something that turned out to be completely off the mark.
According to him, the Escalade was going to destroy the brand of Cadillac. People had an image of the Cadillac. It included luxury, class, exclusivity. It was for people who made $100,000 a year or more.
He didn’t say the hundred grand part. I added that. It’s from my own perception of who owned a Cadillac (back when a hundred thousand a year meant more than it does today).
And I feel totally comfortable with that statement. About 12 years ago we picked up a 1991 Sedan Deville…for a lot less than what a new one went for. It looked like what it was: an older model Cadillac. But we felt rich driving it, and it helped us along a path to prosperity that enabled us to afford nice cars today.
The Escalade is more than an SUV. It’s a Cadillac SUV.
In 1998 someone sat in a board room and made a very bold statement. They were looking at the Lincoln Navigator and some of the German and Japanese cars coming up. They saw their competition…not in the other V-8 sedans that were in the marketplace.
They saw them in what they projected people would want…the sport utility vehicle.
So they didn’t abandon the traditional Cadillac. But they did bet some of their brand equity on getting into a new product.
And they won.
How do I know? Simple. Esther Hicks drives one. She said so (as Abraham) in at least one of her videos. Since she represents the pinnacle of grace and upward mobility (at least to me) and she drives it…end of discussion.
The equity is in the feeling the brand gives…the emotion it elicits. Not in any particular product.
Of course there are plenty of examples where the brand is dependent on the goodwill of one product. You don’t want to throw your flagship product down the toilet.
M&Ms are a great example. M&Ms with pretzel, M&Ms on steriods, M&Ms with pastel colors.
But the good old plain and peanut M&Ms will always stay…at least I think so.
So, we bring it back to you…
What do you represent?
What emotions do you elicit in the public?
Is there a public that is actually responding to you and your message?
Do you have a clear and compelling message?
Do you have a strategy to introduce your brand to the world, and keep it front and center?
There is a hungry public waiting for you to roll out the next, newest coolest model of whatever you’ve got going.
And there are some smart but sometimes wrong people who tell you that you shouldn’t.
You know what to do.
What do you think? Can you think of any brands that didn’t move with the times and faded away? Any that successfully reinvented themselves? How about your own brand? What have you done to stay interesting and add value? Please comment and share.