Toyota, Zuma and Terry brands

So the number one car brand by revenue is in trouble. Toyota is discovering that life at the top comes with great responsibility. Brand is not just about that nice big name and no brand died because it ran some bad adverts. Brands decline or die because they fail to live up to perceived customer expectations. Talking of perceived “customer” expectations, President Jacob Zuma is at it again! Barely had the dust settled on his fifth wedding before revelations of a twentieth child were revealed. No, the child was not the fruit of his union of any of his several wives. The child’s mother is a daughter of a close friend. Shocking? Not really. What did we expect? Will it cost the Zuma brand? I think not.

England football (not soccer – that is American, not English!) John Terry is in the news again. Last time some some months ago some stray emails showed that he was busy shamelessly marketing himself as the ideal “brand ambassador” and trying to entice brands to hand over a few millions of pounds for him to endorse them on a global stage. Before that, there was also the small matter of his contract including him taking home bags of cash from his testimonial game, when the time comes. Now he is alleged to be number five on the list of English premier league players who had an affair with a certain estranged fiance of Wayne Bridge. The great John Terry now seems human! Unlucky for him, he is in England where the tabloids will crucify anybody who shows even an iota of human fallibility. Will John Terry’s brand survive? Well, in the long term, yes – as long as he continues to perform on the pitch. In the short term? Not likely.

What am I getting at? Brand perception is really relative and will depend on many factors, customer expectations and culture being just two.

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