All marketers know that branding is hard to do, and expensive to change. Thus, many brands are reluctant to revise their logos, names, and images. After all, if it’s worked for decades; why go through the trouble and expense to change it now?
The short answer to that question is that society and the world changes (sometimes drastically) and therefore companies have a responsibility to respond to and recognize those events and make changes in order to stay relevant in the marketplace.
A recent topic is that of the use of the name “Jeep Cherokee.” The Chief of the Cherokee Nation has strongly stated that it is wrong of the company to use the Cherokee name to sell cars, and has asked Jeep to discontinue the name. The Cherokee name belongs to a nation of peoples and they contend that using it for peddling products diminishes it. Jeep has sold the Cherokee vehicle since 1974 and retired it in the early 2000s, then reviving it in 2014. It is a popular model and sold more than 200,000 units last year.
This topic brings to mind the issue of the (former) Washington Redskins NFL team. The team has agreed to drop the name and logo after years of protest, as have MLB team Cleveland Indians. Similar protests last year were made against brands including Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s. Land O’Lakes already dropped its image of a Native American woman from its packaging.
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- This is a tough topic, but discuss racism in business with students. Ask them their views.
- Poll students: What products, services, and brands use racist stereotypes?
- Discuss the issue of the Jeep Cherokee and show video: https://youtu.be/D6ZrRbS-yxs
- Show Jeep Cherokee site: https://www.jeep.com/cherokee.html
- Divide students into teams. Have each team reimagine a new name and message for the company.
- How would they overhaul the image if they were in charge of marketing at the company?
- Show all the student solutions and debrief the exercise.
Source: Associated Press; CNN News; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources