In yesterday’s New York Times, reporter Bill Vlasic wrote about the need for the Big Three to cut back on the number of brands they market to improve efficiencies.
But the reporter misses the potential upside beyond saving money. Fewer brands also translates into greater focus and potential marketplace impact on the remaining brands. The trick is to trim the brands that lack any current or potential meaningful differentiation. Ironically, Ford is considering selling Volvo, one of the few brands that stands for something different.
The other drama being played out on the national stage are the Big Three CEO’s asking for billions in government aid. Their challenge here is that the strategy to solve the problem is complex while the process of selling a bailout to Main Street needs to be simple. Right now the companies seem to be getting nailed on both sides. While flying three corporate jets to ask for money will go down as a case study in what not to do, I predict the image of them driving to Washington will get them nailed again on Saturday Night Live.