Thursday, February 24, 2011

Brand Update : RIP Ford Ikon ( 1999-2011)

One of the best selling  car brands from Ford is being laid to rest this year. Ford has officially confirmed that the brand will be discontinued this year. Ford has cited the following reasons for the decision to pull the plug on Ford Ikon. The company wants to introduce new cars based on its global platform. Ford Ikon although was derived from earlier models of Fiesta is a car built for India. Hence no other models can come out of its platform. Now globally car markers are looking for making common platforms from which multiple car models can be built. 
Another reason perhaps may be that Ford think that Ikon has become old. The brand has been in the market for the last 12 years and consumers have seen lot of Ikon. Hence this familiarity may prevent further freshness/excitement about the brand.It is my assumption that the brand may not be able to fit into the Bharat Stage V emission norms. 

News reports also say that Ford is contemplating on bringing the Fiesta to the Ikon price band and then introduce another Fiesta variant - Fiesta Sedan at the premium end. 

So Ford Ikon is Dead.
The question is whether killing Ikon is a good marketing strategy or not. 

Theoretically every product moves through a lifecycle and eventually die. But there are brands which has been thriving for decades and still is fresh and alive. So in a branding perspective, only products die and brands live forever. Hence killing a popular young dashing brand Ikon may not be a good idea. And bringing Fiesta to take the place of Ikon also seems to be confusing brand strategy.

Ikon was a neglected brand in the Ford portfolio ever since the launch of Fiesta. In my earlier update on the brand, I had mentioned that the brand was not promoted or energized. In 2009, Ford made some cosmetic changes on Ikon and sort of relaunched it. But a very random non-systematic investment on brand will not yield results. Ikon should have been consistently promoted and nurtured. Ford did not do that and then complaining about the legacy  is just an excuse. Brands will survive above product lifecycle only through regular investment on promotion and innovation. Then even if products die, the brand will reinvent itself under new products. Here I am making a distinction between Brand and Product. 

Ford is now rejoicing in the new found success of Figo. The company seems to have identified the right product strategy and wants to capitalize on that by bringing in more globally compatible products like Figo. Ikon thus does not fit into the new found product strategy of Ford. 

The death of Ikon is opening up a vacant spot in the car market. The segment of a sporty sedan is now open and up for grabs but only for those who have willingness to invest for the longterm.

So RIP Ford Ikon, we miss you.

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