The title of this post may be a bit misleading. After all, these days, one really has to wonder whether Chrysler even has something that resembles a brand strategy. Several weeks ago, we heard from David Kiley at Business Week that the company was considering creating a new brand, Ram, which would cover its line of trucks (currently sold as Dodge Ram trucks). You would think the firm needs fewer brands, not more. Now, we hear again from Kiley that they are working with ad agencies on a concept whereby they would try to position Chrysler as an upscale brand, up there with the likes of Cadillac. Really? How will Chrysler achieve this, particularly given its poor reputation for quality and the dearth of exciting new products in its pipeline?
Clearly, Chrysler understands that it has a need to distinctly position its brands. For years, the firm sold Dodge, Chrysler, and Plymouth cars that were nearly identical. The brands had no distinct meaning. The firm killed off Plymouth, an understandable move given the brand confusion. Now, it's trying to position Chrysler as something quite different than Dodge. Again, conceptually, this makes sense. However, you have to have the product to support the positioning. You can't just use marketing and advertising to create a new brand positioning in smoke and mirrors like fashion.
Here's a thought... if Fiat wants to come up with distinct positioning for its various brands, why not make Dodge the truck brand, and Chrysler the car and minivan brand? That fits more closely with the product portfolio as it currently exists, and it doesn't stretch either brand to be something completely foreign to how it is currently perceived by consumers. Moreover, you wouldn't be worrying about selling cars under both brands that are essentially identical automobiles.