Renaming GM?

With GM hitting the bankruptcy court a couple weeks ago, I've seen several articles talking about whether or not GM should rename themselves. The idea of renaming a company as it exits bankruptcy was been popular lately (Blackwater Worldwide to Xe, GMAC to Ally, etc). This can be a good idea for some companies that are trying to escape bad publicity. Blackwater changing it's name is a good idea, as there were some pretty bad things attributed to them in Iraq. But at the same time, it was not a well known company in the first place. If someone asked you to tell them something about Blackwater, the only thing you would be able to pull out of your mind would be that they were the contractors that got in trouble over in Iraq. AIG is another example of a company that would do well with a name change. Most of America knows them as the huge insurance company that didnt' really know what they were doing, overleveaged themselves, and had to have the taxpayer bail them out.

What about GM? If you ask someone to tell you something about GM, they could very well have a story about an unreliable car, prodcut disasters, or bad management practices. You'll also hear good stories about generations of people being employed there, stories of Corvettes and Camaros, Buick sponsoring Tiger Woods, and how the new CTS-V outpaces the BMW M5. I think that us, as a nation, are more disappointed with GM than anything else. We thing AIG is a bunch of crooks that took advantage of us, we thing GM has gotten lazy. There's a big difference in those views, especially with regards to brand.

I've been thinking a lot about brand lately, after reading Branson's last book, Business Stripped Bare. Branson spoke alot about the value of a brand, and how important it is to protect it. It's a lot different for Branson's Virgin to do that, since the Virgin brand includes things from trains, airplanes, spaceships, and cell phones. But keeping that Virgin idea in all aspects of the business is of the upmost importantce to him. GM struggles with keeping a consistent brand image across it's brands. Granted, that's really difficult when you have Corvettes and Escalades on one side, and G3s on the other side. Overall though, GM has done a lot over the last century or so that has built up its brand. Trying to change a name at this point in a company's history would be a waste of all that goodwill that has been built up. True, things haven't been very well the last decade or so for the whole company, but there have been some terrific successes. The Z06 Corvettes have been awesome, the redesigned Malibu has gotten good reviews, and even though it's not gonna be around too much longer, the G8 GT is a nice vehicle. As always, we look at history in terms of the last 20 years or so, but GM is an example of a company that is larger than the last 20 years. Making a knee jerk reaction to try and drum up business for a few months would be a bad idea.

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