Will the BMW brand lose its focus too?

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This article in today’s New York Times got me thinking about BMW and its brand:


I think that just about anyone could argue pretty convincingly that of all the imported luxury marques, BMW has done the best job of sticking to its positioning over the long term.  Encapsulated by “The Ultimate Driving Machine,”  BMW has year after year developed and sold products that live up to this brand standard.  The marketing has also been remarkably consistent in supporting the brand positioning.

So it was encouraging to read in the NY Times that BMW is serious about maintaining its independence and at some level is rejecting the industry’s argument that “scale” is critical to success.  What a crime it would be if BMW ended up married to someone else, sharing parts and technologies and the products became less distinct.  I hope the same applies to their view of their brand positioning and marketing.

It seems like every imported automotive brand that established a clear and unassailable positioning in the ‘70s and ‘80s has allowed that positioning to become broader as they chased volume in the ‘90s.  The result…some sold  more cars, but at the expense of their clear positioning.  Consider Volvo, it owned “safety,” but that was too narrow, they couldn’t sell 200,000 cars in the US with such a narrow positioning.  I bet they’d be grateful today to “own” safety and be selling 125,000 units.

Here’s the part of the NY Times article that worries me:

“BMW is seeking its salvation in a new definition of premium cars, one that would emphasize to affluent buyers in the United States and Europe that its models are not just fast driving machines but can be configured to do less damage to the environment than much of the competition.”

I hope they’re careful, environmental issues are important, but BMW’s performance positioning is the heart and soul of the brand.  Expressing the environmental message as an integral part of performance is the opportunity, “not just fast driving machines” sounds like a broadening of the positioning and that will lead to a weaker brand.

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3 Responses to “Will the BMW brand lose its focus too?”

  1. Delia says:

    JerryNo follow-up/due dilligence or quote from Go#o1&n821z;it is from si not a message board? Or is this something you would rather sweep under the rug…Of course seton hall fans blame everyone but the coach for this.Hey, this might save them the embarassment since they don’t have a shot in hell to get Cheek.

  2. Cameron says:

    Yes. Please send me the url you will post to.

  3. Polprav says:

    Hello from Russia!
    Can I quote a post in your blog with the link to you?

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