Sunday, January 13, 2008

Does "locally-owned" matter?

Great post over at Collective Wisdom about DeHaven Chevrolet's name change, as reported by the Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly.

One thing I'd add to Scott's post: when DeHaven's management says "we wanted to do something that tied us in to the community," they're falling into a common marketing trap. Customers and prospects only care about your connection to the community when everything else is equal. It's not as important as price. It's not as important as convenience. And it's not as important as customer service. Now, I'd certainly agree that the world might be a slightly better place if everyone shopped locally, but the reality is that while perhaps it should matter, it usually doesn't.

Other related posts worth reading: "The Locally-Owned Business Fallacy" (if you have 10 minutes) and "
Encyclopedia salesmen hate wikipedia..." (if you have 10 seconds) over at Seth Godin's blog.


ScLoHo (Scott Howard) said...

Anthony, I just returned from my first Komet game in 30 years, since i was a teenager. Due to my background, my mind was racing about as fast as the puck as I watched how the Komets have kept the excitement alive. 6000 folks attended tonights game and they know how to create a show!

Komets are Ft. Wayne due to WOWO and Bob Chase for folks over the age of 40 all over the east coast. Let's hope they never change their name!

Beth said...

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. I can't think many businesses in Fort Wayne that have more name equity than DeHaven Chevrolet. Anyone that has grown up in this city has surely heard that catchy (and also kitschy) jingle that stays in your head hours after having heard it. It's a sentimental favorite, and a part of Fort Wayne pop-culture. If that's not a tie to the community, I don't know what is.

Anthony Juliano said...

Beth, you hit the nail on the head. Brands get built over time, through consistency and strategic repetition. A name change is a huge risk, because you have to start over and you lose any equity you've earned over time (and if you're eroding the strength of your brand with a jingle that’s more kitchy than catchy, you can change that without changing your name). The old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" rule is a good one to follow when it comes to naming/branding.

And Scott, your comment also makes a great case for the need for patience when building a brand. The Komets have a long history in Fort Wayne, and that's allowed them to build a pretty good fan base in a city that's not exactly a hockey mecca. Their name's not perfect, but it would be a huge mistake to change it now.