Ouch! Sometimes taglines can come back to bite you. Because of all their recent troubles, Toyota’s tagline, “Moving Forward” takes on a a whole new, unintended meaning. After all, moving forward isn’t a problem for their cars. Stopping seems to be.
The Toyota brand has certainly taken a hit, and the road back continues to hit bumps. Not the least of which are the recent emails that seem to indicate that Toyota has been concerned about the electronics of their cars for some years — something they have been publicly denying as the problem for quite some time.
Other companies have had their brand dragged through the mud and have come out of it in good shape. For example, another Japanese leader in the auto industry received terrible publicity after safety experts linked their product to several fatal accidents, went through a massive recall, and was forced to testify before Congress. In this instance, the company was the tire maker Bridgestone.
However, within two years of the recall, the company returned to profitability, and over time was able to recapture much of the market share it had lost.
Another player in this safety issue was Ford, which had many of Bridgestone’s tires on its SUVs. At the time, Ford was struggling to rebuild its own brand, and the public squabble with Bridgestone as to who was at fault, didn’t help.
Like Bridgestone, Ford publicly acknowledged its errors, corrected the problem, and plodded forward to win back the public’s confidence. Today, Ford is one of the darlings of the auto industry.
Although I’m not recommending they change their tagline to “Plodding Forward”, Toyota will need to do just that for the foreseeable future as they slowly win back customers’ confidence and restore their brand.