A couple of days ago, Edward Niedermeyer over at The Truth About Cars (TTAC) wrote a post titled "What’s Wrong With This Picture? Brand, What Brand?" The picture was the one shown below and was a linked to my original post reporting that Porsche had produced their 250,000th Cayenne. A pretty significant milestone.
True to the nature of TTAC (and one of the reasons I enjoy the site and participate) a spirited debate ensued in the comments from fellow TTAC readers. The opinions are fairly polarized and there doesn't seem to be much of a middle ground - kind of a "love it or hate it" atmosphere. The most recent comment comes from TTAC's founder, Robert Farago, in response to a post I had made refuting a statement that the Cayenne is the beginning of the end for Porsche. Robert said,
Branding relates to hard-wired human psychology. The tighter (simpler, more focused) a brand, the more powerful it is. Memorable. Compelling. That sort of thing.
The more it tries to do/be, the weaker it becomes. IBM was mainframe computers. Then laptops. Then consulting (”solutions”). Then extinct. (Ish.)
Pontiac? Buick? Yes, even Mercedes and Porsche. All these brands have lost/are losing their appeal. You can run but you can’t hide from basic human nature.
Here's my response:
I don’t disagree with you, at least not completely. However, I think a “brand” or “branding” can do/be quite a bit and still be “tight”. Most of what constitutes a brand, the sum of its parts if you will, are intangible.
According to David Ogilvy (one of the more famous marketers of my generation), “the intangible sum of a product’s attributes: its name, packaging, and price, its history, its reputation, and the way it’s advertised.” These are the things that define a brand.
In some ways, the whole Cayenne/Panamera argument reminds me of Apple as they started to evolve from more than just a computer company for graphic designers and digital artists. In the early days, Apple had a die-hard audience and core user-group that had eyes only for the Mac. As the company/brand grew and expanded, more and more product lines were added and their audience widened beyond just this core group of “purists”. This did not dilute the brand, it only served to make it stronger.
I think the Cayenne has added to the Porsche brand (through it's performance characteristics and Motorsport achievements) and expanded on the good doctor’s original intent for the company. “I couldn’t find the
sports carSUV of my dreams, so I built it myself.”
As for Robert's statement about Porsche having lost or losing it's brand appeal, I know at least 250,000 people that would disagree.
Check out the original post on TTAC and let me know what you think. Post your comments here or post them there. I'll see them either way.
Porsche Chooses a Diesel to Mark Production of the 250,000th Cayenne
Porsche Cayenne S Hybrid and Panamera Information
Porsche Cayenne Diesel
How I learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Cayenne GTS
Torture Testing the Porsche Cayenne Transsyberia
[Source: TTAC, PorschePurist]