Toyota is losing its brand. They are crumbling right before our eyes. The latest meltdown came just last night after a man driving a prius in California lost his brakes and could not turn off the engine going 90 + mph for several minutes on a CA freeway. Add this on to the last two months of recalls and testing and bad press. It's not good for Toyota. Brand equity is rapidly dissipating. Toyota has been #1 in brand loyalty among car customers for several years. Toyota owners love their cars. The American public used to hold the Toyota brand in the highest regards. But this is changing. Once a respected and admired brand, they've lost credibility, billions in market share, and continue to make wrong decisions in pr and response to this nightmare.
How quickly a brand can go bad. Literally overnight.
A couple of things I've noticed about this whole situation which might speak towards how we can avoid brand meltdown in our organizations:
1. it seems that Toyota has gotten lazy. That is pure speculation, but a good guess I believe.
2. Quality and excellence still matter. Loyalty can only get you so far. You still have to deliver a great product. That's what the Toyota brand has stood for in the past.
3. Authenticity wins. Putting Toyota executives on TV doesn't show authenticity. The stiff guys in the suits just make us more leary that they are covering something up. Let's hear some honesty- "yeah, we messed up. we're gonna fix it."
4. Shut up, own up, and fix it. There seems to be a lot of finger pointing among the brass at Toyota. The only person who seems willing to own up is the founder and Chairman, Mr. Toyota himself. But all of his top brass are trying to pass the buck. Someone needs to step up and be willing to change the game.
5. Find, recruit and create scouts. This is pretty simple, but find trusted leaders inside and outside your organization who will constantly look for areas, issues, problems that could potentially become a brand killer. These have to be leaders who will tell you what you may not want to hear, vs. just telling you what you already know.