DETROIT - For three years Ford Motor Co. executives have huddled to thrash out a global automotive brand strategy. Now the results are in.
Ford has spelled out what each of its six automotive brands mean to give them a sharper identity in consumers' minds.
The new brand strategy underpins Ford's plan to become more consumer-oriented, said Robert Rewey, Ford group vice president of marketing, sales and service. The plan's goal is higher sales and profits.
Both Ford and General Motors have been criticized for overlapping and fuzzy brand images. However, even with the new brand images, it will take three to five years for Ford's product lineup to reflect the brand thinking, Ford executives said.
Mercury, whose showrooms have worn hand-me-downs from the larger Ford Division, has the longest way to go, said James Schroer, executive director of Ford's marketing strategy and brand management office.
Ford has set undisclosed internal targets for profit, revenue, market share, quality and brand acceptance, Rewey said.
Ford will reveal distinct brand identities for Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, Mazda, Jaguar and Aston Martin at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. The new brand images will be conveyed in a massive auto show display designed to showcase brand individuality through textures, colors, materials and designs. For the first time, the show display will group all of Ford's brands. Mazda, for example, will not be off on its own.
Meanwhile, J. Mays, Ford vice president of design, is developing a 'visual language' for each of the six brands. Last week, he used ignition keys to illustrate brand personalities. For example, a Lincoln key, he said, would use titanium and chrome to convey American luxury. Jaguar's key would use leather to communicate elegance.
Product developers, suppliers and marketers will rely on the visual signals as they translate brand personality into vehicles. 'We're not there yet. This is a road map for us over the next five years,' Mays said.
Like other automakers, Ford has been plagued with look-alike products in competing divisions.
'Badge engineering is out,' Schroer said.
Ford Motor Credit Co. and Hertz also have been put under the brand microscope. Rewey wants Ford Credit's and Hertz's brand strategies to work together with the vehicle brands, but he did not give specific examples.