The BBC interviewed Simon Manchipp on hearing that Volkswagen were announcing a rebrand — to VOLTSwagen… curiously this seemed to coincide with April Fools day too…
I turned to the brand consultant, Simon Manchipp and asked him whether companies could be just a bit too clever when it comes to branding.
It comes from quite a long line of good stunts using brand names. I think in the electronic car world, the naming is pretty rubbish, if you look at the way that cars are named out there from Nissan ‘LEAFs’ to ‘I3’s’ to ‘Bolts’ and things like that.
It’s all rather dire and so to have a play on the brand name like Volkswagen felt like a bit of a gift.
I have seen this done elsewhere to kind of good effect — there have been interesting ways of using brand names to apologize, KFC famously swapped those letters around to FCK when they ran out of chicken to apologize to the nation.
Hershey bars, when they discovered that ‘her’ and ‘she’ could be split up, used the platform there to promote female creativity, which was really great — so I think when I when I first saw this I thought oh, okay, it’s in one of the long line of ideas playing with a brand name — but it is a bit of a gift to the way that VOLT & Volk is so close together.
Do you think this is part of getting away from Dieselgate from the scandals around the diesel testing. Have they still got a job to do here, or is that fading from people’s memory.
I think that there’s a lot of nonsense spoken about in branding, and that the best rule of thumb is that brand work is there to manage reputation.
That’s what it does really really well, and clearly VW have a few skeletons in their cupboard — and they haven’t completely been brushed away. People do have a fairly long memory in that respect, but VW are well on the way to establishing new behaviours, I’m sure that they were acutely aware of, of that as their decision making went forward here.
I think all brands are continually — if they’re doing it well — updating and managing those reputations. Through their actions, and of course branding, whether it’s naming or logos or colours or typefaces or any of those things — they all help contribute to the image of the organisation, and that image helps manage the reputation.
Do you think everybody else is going to be rebranding themselves I mean I’m just looking at the GM new logo which is meant to — I’m not sure if it does — resemble an electric plug. Everyone’s going to be going down this way we’re going to be putting flashes of lightning and sort of zigzags all over their logos?
Well I think that the move to electric has signaled lots of change in the car industry, most of it positive. We are already seeing lots of indications on existing car brands that they’ve gone electric — flashes of blue — changes of colour, the way that lighting changes. I’ve got an electric car, and it feels very very different in the way that they’ve branded it that way the lights change etc, are specific to that kind of EV vehicle.
There are lots of updates also happening in the car world in terms of their visual brand identities, I believe, Renault has recently undergone a new badge, BMW had a new flat design introduced, heralding in this new this new wave of thinking.
So yes I think all of the car brands are acutely aware that this gives them an opportunity to manage their reputations in a smart way — to update their image — update their branding — and make sure that they’re leading the pack rather than following.
That from the brand consultant Simon Manchipp, and latest word — Let’s just get this absolute straight — the latest word from VW is, it’s a joke, they’re not changing their name.