Styling saves the day for US carmakers

In hard economic times when people are spending less money then your brand has to differentiate massively to continue an upward curve. Being cheap and value for money is no longer enough, if you take a look at the offers at Lifestyle Europe you’ll see how affordable motoring on a budget has become with a host of great deals available on top quality cars.

So if cheap isn’t cutting it, how can you make your car brand stand out? Go hybrid or economical? Well you could, but everyone is doing that so unless you can pull a technological gem out of your back pocket you are going to be branded in a category with a lot of other no hopers praying that frugality can see sales rise. But how do you manage to transform your brand to be more successful without defying the core values that made your company a household name in the first place?

GM, Ford and Chrysler were faced with this exact quandary in recent years as their market share began to diminish. The sales of Ford, GM and Chrysler cars were tumbling to rival brands, but an unlikely hero stood up and took on the mantel; that man was Ed Welburn, the Top Designer at GM Motors. Normally a reserved man he was disgusted with how the business was going and frustrated that their brand did not deserve to be burnt by the harsh words being written by the press and implored his team to put their hearts and souls into a design to dig them out of the mire.

It was an odd thing to do in the circumstances, but how it is been revolutionary to the company and the other Detroit-based companies’ fortunes. The fresh new designs of the Ford Fusion family car, Jeep Cherokee, the Chrysler Sedan and Kuga gave the car makers a huge lift and began to see them pulling back some market share lost to its rivals. Better still, for Ford small styling adjustments to their best-selling class-leaders such as the Mondeo and Fiesta help push the even further out in front of their rivals and boosted them further.

Something as simple as a design face-lift helped differentiate their brands and moved GM Motors, Chrysler and Ford back into contention, without which could have seen them quickly going out of business. It highlights how time can be wasted on daring new fangled ideas that quickly fizzle out and die and are not the way forward, but simply tweaking the styling to be more cutting-edge can be enough to pull a car maker out of the doldrums.

~ by velofinds on October 1, 2009.

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