LOS ANGELES -- When global responsibility for Lexus was shifted from Japan to California a couple of months ago, the idea was to set strategy where the luxury brand has been most successful.
Worldwide marketing and product planning now is based at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. in Torrance, Calif. The new global boss is Lexus' U.S. general manager, Mark Templin, who wants to create an image for the brand that packs more emotional punch.
Toyota executives in Japan still will collaborate on Lexus decisions. After all, Toyota and Lexus vehicles share some platforms and components. And some product planning still will be handled in Japan, as well as various product and marketing functions. But the nerve center for Lexus is now Los Angeles.
"We want to create a global consistency," said Templin. "We haven't had a hub for centralizing our message. Now we can do that. We're at a point where we're ready to grow and enter more markets. So we want to create consistency before growing more."
Templin knows it isn't easy to create a harmonized, international brand image, since countries and cultures have different ideas of luxury. But he says one thing is clear.
"Our brand needs to be more emotional," said Templin, who earlier in his career ran Toyota's Scion youth brand. "In the past, we talked about the perfection of our product. But the 'Pursuit of Perfection' idea lacks emotion. We can't communicate how great we take care of the customer."
He addded: "People need to know that we're emotional and fun, and not the boring brand that they perceive us to be."