Yes, we’ve all heard the story about the Chevrolet Nova (not true as I have reported on this blog earlier), the Mitsubishi Pajero, the Mitsubishi Colt and other car models. However, behind those obvious and funny stories of branding blunders, there’s also some cultural richness and subtlety to explore. Have you ever thought about the names US car manufacturers brand their cars with? Ford EXPEDITION, Jeep PATRIOT, Lincoln NAVIGATOR, Dodge CHARGER – the list is endless. All of these names are more than just inventions of overly creative marketeers. They stand for something, and they provide identity. They’ve been chosen to describe the essence of the model, but also because they address some deep emotional needs of customers in the target group. To most customers in the United States, EXPEDITION stands for something positive, and so does PATRIOT or CHARGER. These are culturally loaded names for car models that conjure some of the positive values that most Americans have grown up with – individuality, initiative, responsibility, competition, to name but a few. Now stop and think about German car models (and, for the sake of the argument, let’s leave Volkswagen out of the equation for a moment). Mercedes has the A-class, the B-class, the C-class and so on. And when they go really crazy, those jovial Germans come up with the G-class! And BMW? They have the 1-series, the 3-series, the 5-series… You get the idea. Now what do these tell us about German cultural values? Germans value ideas such as structure, order, hierarchy, logic, but also the perfection of engineering that is buried in the numbers and letters. The big mystery of course is why do Americans then still like German luxury cars? Maybe it’s the lure of the exotic, maybe it’s that model names aren’t the most important factors in the purchase decision, or maybe it’s just one of those inexplicable paradoxes of culture.
Posts Tagged ‘Ford’
Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely will acquire Swedish Volvo from American Ford Motor. Geely has come a long (and fast) way from its modest beginnings as a motorcycle parts manufacturer to what is now China’s 12th largest automotive manufacturer. Being the 12th may not mean a lot in other markets, but consider two things: First, China is a huge market. Second, Geely has impressed at many car shows with high-powered concept cars and seems to be determined to grow further and gain market share. For Ford, selling Volvo is not only part of its recent strategy to sell off non-core brands (it earlier sold Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata of India), but it’s also quite an infusion of liquidity – out of the reported selling price of 1.8 billion US$, 1.6 billion will be in cash. For now, Geely has promised to leave Volvo alone, but it has also not failed to mention that it has already recruited a new team of executives to ‘oversee’ things at Volvo…!
Volvo of Sweden which has been owned by Ford for a number of years will be sold to a consortium led by Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely. It has been reported that the consortium is willing to pay about $2bn as it seeks to capitalize on the brands’ good reputation in the Chinese market. The first voices of concern from inside Volvo have already emerged. The head of Volvo’s engineering union expressed severe concerns about the Chinese’s ability to understand the Volvo culture – understandaby. Swedish culture is almost everything that Chinese culture is not – valuing individual initiative, egalitarian and risk-seeking. Brace for impact!