Another brand bites the dust.

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News that Penske has backed out of the deal to purchase Saturn will ripple through the industry in a myriad of ways.  Detroit’s economy will be effected, thousands will lose their jobs, dealers and their employees are left scrambling.  These are the serious consequences of the deal blowing up.

Less serious, but no less real, is the fact that another automotive brand will disappear.  There was time when Saturn stood for something: “A different kind of car company.”  The promise of no haggle pricing and a dealer experience that was customer focussed and positive.  These attributes were foundation stones of a remarkable branding campaign:

These ideas and brilliant marketing created the essential ingredient of an automotive brand…brand advocates…..lots of them:

Unfortunately, Saturn proved the truth of something that an automotive client said to me years ago:  “Cameron, with all due respect to marketing, 80% of success in the car business is product, make a good product and people will buy it, don’t and the best marketing won’t make a difference.”  On one hand there is real wisdom in this and the fact that GM starved Saturn for product for so many years proves the point.

However, Saturn was a brand that stood for something.  I don’t think it matters much how it attained that status, the fact is Saturn was a brand that had an ethos.  I was hopeful, even confident, that Penske would be able to revive the brand and rebuild it.  Unfortunately he couldn’t reach an agreement with Nissan/Renault to supply product.  Once again, that “truth” about product rears it’s head and Saturn the brand is the loser.

In an industry, where there are so few strong brands it’s a real shame when a good one is allowed to whither and die.  We need to take our brands more seriously and take better care of them.  Without brands, we’re just selling transportation.

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6 Responses to “Another brand bites the dust.”

  1. Barna tar det sÃ¥ fort, snart spiller storebror for fullt tenker jeg. Barna her liker ogsÃ¥ Ã¥ spille de appene pÃ¥ iphone'n min. En ipad stÃ¥r pÃ¥ ønskelisten 🙂 Klemmer fra Elin

  2. That’s a nicely made answer to a challenging question

  3. I’ve been looking for a post like this for an age

  4. Haha. I woke up down today. You’ve cheered me up!

  5. Robert says:

    bought by a well-heeled buyer with a proven track recrod. Saturn fans should be quite excited aboutPenske Backs Out | txGaragePenske and GM both issued statements today about the fallout of their deal for Saturn. Penske

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