Is it time to retire the GM brand?

As GM undergoes a renovation to get it back on the road to healthy, there will be a lot of discussion of which brands to keep and which to jettison.  In that spirit, I would like to nominate the GM brand itself as the first to be retired.

The GM brand is getting rusty with age. 

The rebuilt company should adopt one of the market brands for the corporate name.  This would have several advantages for the new company.  

1) It will signal a shift from the past practices which contributed to the company being in a ditch.  

2) It will have cost efficiencies since the company will save the costs of supporting a corporate brand that doesn’t have a direct benefit to the market brands.  For instance, Chevrolet benefits little if at all from the GM corporate advertising campaign. 

3) It can provide a new direction for the company’s narrative.  The Chevrolet brothers have an engaging story about how they came to America and founded their automotive company — as well as their shared passion for racing.  Knowing that the co-founder was a winner of the Indianapolis 500 gives the company more than just a human face.

Now the problems of GM are not solely of their own making.  And branding alone cannot solve the economic pileup on the financial highway.  It would be unrealistic to believe that changing the shape of the company’s narrative will substitute for the hard work of rebuilding the organization.  On the other hand, it will be much more difficult to rebuild the company without reshaping the company’s narrative.

Using the Narrative Branding (R) method will help the new GM to know that their branding is always in service of the business strategy.  Their branding is not disconnect from the business.  And branding is not the driver of business strategy.

It would be a brilliant move to announce the retirement of the GM brand on the day that Bob Lutz official retires.  It will be this coming April 1st.  April Fools Day.  An end of one chapter in the company’s history and the start of a new chapter.

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