We have to say it: we really love the new brand positioning from Chrysler. The television commercial that aired during the Super Bowl was nothing short of brilliant—it made us actually want to be from Detroit. However, the new ‘Imported from Detroit’ logo design that is the next installment in this marketing campaign is not so high up on our list of favorites.
The logo, which has been created especially for this marketing campaign, features the standard Chrysler logo with a fist in the middle. The fist comes from a 24-foot Detroit sculpture of boxer Joe Lewis’ forearm and hand. This sculpture has become a landmark in the city, so it is an appropriate representation of Detroit pride. However, the Michigan logo design looks like a teenager spent a day with Photoshop; there is no art or nuance to it, just a car logo and a fist.
However, many people obviously disagree with our view of the logo, because the company has been selling t-shirts and other apparel bearing the design—and they are selling like hotcakes. We are glad so many people are buying this apparel, because a portion of the profits are donated to Detroit area charities to help the area survive the economic recession that has hit them harder than many other areas of the country.
The intention of the commercials (and the marketing campaign in general) is to create a ‘Detroit’ brand that will make people want to buy their cars. The use of the word ‘Import’ suggests that this city is very different from other areas of the nation, that it is a tougher place with more traditional working class values. We happen to love the commercials because they take a negative perception of Detroit and show a cooler side of it. This comes at a time when Chrysler is desperate to come back from bankruptcy that is in part due to Americans’ love of imported automobiles.
Will this commercial get Americans to back ‘Team Detroit’, not just in sentiment but in actual shopping behavior? The clothing sales are encouraging, as the garments are hardly bargain priced. It is rare that people literally ‘buy into’ a marketing campaign. These sales show that Americans are ready to embrace Detroit pride and proudly bear the logos associated with the marketing scheme.
If American cars are going to keep up with imports, they have a long road ahead of them. First, they must prove that they are as safe, fuel efficient, comfortable, and reliable as the imports that Americans are favoring more and more. Second, they must become more innovative—Asian brands in particular are favored for coming out with new technologies almost every year. Last, they must show that they are not only equal to the imports, but actually better. Branding and logo design will certainly be an important part of that equation. We consider the new marketing campaign (even with a questionable logo design) a good start.
If you are going up against tough competition, it may be time to look at your brand and evaluate how you can differentiate your company as the best choice.