Yesterday brought another news story of GM trying to revitalize the storied Cadillac brand. Again. But how many times can you apply CPR before you pronounce it dead? Cadillac is a zombie brand. It is mortally wounded and unless your name is Frankenstein there isn’t a laboratory sophisticated enough resuscitate it.
Insert clever metaphor here but Cadillac’s imagery is old and tired at best and a Jack Klompus joke at worst. Changing the public’s impression of Cadillac makes changing that of Enron’s easy by comparison, it is that deeply ingrained.
Marketers will talk of a brand’s equity forgetting that equity is not always an asset it can be a liability too. Sometimes it is far better to declare a brand BK and launch a new one that doesn’t have an anchor tied to a drag chute
The challenge of changing a brand’s perception has to be weighed against creating a brand’s perception. In the case of Cadillac, it is in reverse so it has to get back to neutral and then into drive. A longer road than one from zero to sixty.
GM should keep all the technical marvels and upscale accoutrement, tweak the exterior, hire a competent agency that can create a narrative longer than 240 characters and create a new brand. New brands are exciting, they are vital, they pique interest and spark conversations. And, they are cheaper to launch than trying to shift ingrained consumer perceptions of a bad old one.
Case in point, GM spent at least $7 million connecting Tiger Woods to Buick in a bid to contemporize the brand. Now Buick is fine car I am sure, but I’d bet there is not more than a handful of LinkedIn members who own one.