DETROIT -- With plans for a tenfold increase in hybrid vehicles, Ford Motor Co. wants to make scientific innovation the hallmark of its domestic brands. And even though a dramatic expansion in Ford hybrids remains five years away, the automaker will launch a major corporate branding campaign in October.
The move to stamp the automaker's century-old Ford name with a new image highlights a key problem: the company's inability to create a strong identity for its brands.
That was a motivating factor in new investment, CEO Bill Ford acknowledged. What should Ford stand for?
"I'm not sure there was an aha moment," Bill Ford said. "But it became increasingly clear to me, as we were talking to customers and doing our research like we always do, that the Ford brand in particular, but also Lincoln and Mercury, didn't have the kind of clarity in the marketplace that I wanted to see."
That realization in part triggered the appointment of outgoing Volvo CEO Hans-Olov Olsson as Ford Motor's chief marketing officer. Coming from Volvo, with its strong safety brand image, Olsson will help leverage safety innovation across all the company's brands, Bill Ford said.
But the innovation will be broad-based, he added. In addition to safety and environmental advances such as hybrids, the automaker intends to lay a claim to other technological advances and design innovation, he said.