Background: Ford announced the ending of its Mercury line.
Over the years, what once was an attractive mid-priced car conceived during the Depression (top) became a less and less relevant piece of bland metal marketed to people with a closet full of green slacks (below).
Writing about the demise of US car brands has become a thriving cottage industry. As Oldsmobiles and Pontiacs are tossed from product shelves like musty sweaters, commentators offer nostalgia ("I rode in one on my first date.") or scolding ("It's about time GM killed that brand.") or macro-economic platitudes ("The global auto industry has too much capacity.").
But let's face it, reading about branding is pretty dreary anyway. I like the people at Brandweek and have written for them from time to time. But geez, the weekly palaver about product strategy is less interesting than articles on back pain. Who doesn't respect David Aaker, that prolific examiner of every dimension of brand strategy? Yet who wouldn't rather wait for laundry to dry than wade through one of his treatises?
Okay, time for one beautiful article on the Mercury brand just laid to rest. If you want to understand the essence of branding – the central idea behind our precious jargon – start with this little essay from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/opinion/13dudley.html
This is – in our world of brand commentary – an absolute gem. It captures the essence of successful branding: Giving others an opportunity to express themselves.