The LawsonClarke blog brand-daq – March

Which brands are up, down or resting on their laurels.

This entirely subjective view will be updated periodically.

Up

Skoda – it’s ‘Superb’

So it might be based on a Volkswagen, but you’ve got to admire the transformation that is Skoda.

In 1997 I wrote a piece for The Independent in which I spoke about the steps the company was taking to return to its once proud roots of engineering excellence.  See: http://bit.ly/bXPxrp

At that time Skoda was just starting its recovery from being the laughing stock of the motor industry, but it was surely going to be a long haul.  13 years later, and having consistently developed and honed its products back to its DNA – affordability and reliability – Skoda has a range of cars that people are proud to drive.

The Superb, its latest offering, might sound a tad immodest even in a marketing-led world rife with hyperbole, yet it is a name the press has had no difficulty endorsing.  Auto Express says: “Superb by name and nature, Skoda’s range-topper goes straight to the top of the class”, while this review from The Observer is also not untypical: http://bit.ly/acrGYA

Brand recovery takes time, patience and a consistent approach, and Skoda is a textbook example others would do well to emulate.

Down

Lloyds Bank – the most complained about financial group

A good reputation is all about trust, and you’d have thought that ‘the banks’ – by which I mean the high street brands we mostly have to engage with – would understand that establishing and maintaining trust is essential to the success of their businesses.  Patently not. http://bit.ly/9FRcLQ (Telegraph.co.uk).

Once upon a time, we held our bank manager in high esteem, and were proud to save our hard-earned within the vaults of his once trusted branch.  But then things started to go wrong.  Customers became accounts; bank staff skipped the more personalised approach to customer service and no longer knew us by name.  We were bracketed into socio economic groups and ‘sold’ credit cards and insurance policies.  There was little attempt to understand our individual needs, and anyway, why make the effort?  They changed jobs every 18 months and disappeared off to ‘regional office’, and not long afterwards their branches began to close.  That solid, stone-built edifice on the corner of the high street – once an icon of trust – became a Loch Fyne restaurant.

Then there were the dubious bank charges.  And when we called to discuss these and other matters relating to our money, our enquiry was ‘off-shored’ to a call centre in Mumbai, Middlesbrough or wherever.

So are we really surprised to hear that Lloyds Banking Group, created from one of the most trusted names in the high street, has clocked up debts of £24billion http://bit.ly/9JEHOu (Management Today)?

The saying “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves” seems to have a hollow ring to it.  If the banks can’t look after its customers and their modest sums of money, what hope for the taxpayers’ billions….?

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