26 February 2019, Views, HORIZONT

What to think of the mobility joint venture of Daimler and BMW from a brand perspective

This news caused a stir a few days ago: BMW and Daimler join forces on the subject of the mobility of the future. The car manufacturers want to invest more than one billion euros to make progress in the areas of car-sharing, ride-sharing, parking, battery charging solutions and multimodality. At the launch, the companies have announced the establishment of five joint ventures for sustainable mobility services. But does this all make sense from a brand perspective? Christopher Wünsche, founder and owner of the Munich-based brand and communications consultancy Truffle Bay, has his doubts.

Drive Now, Car2Go, Mytaxi, Charge Now, Park Now, Beat, moovel and so on. I was so looking forward to Jurbey. And only Jurbey. It's still a bit confusing that the whole thing has five names now and not one offering five services... All right: Share Now, Charge Now, Park Now, Reach Now and, oh, yes, Free Now.

What the two bosses of the leading premium manufacturers Daimler and BMW Group want to (or have to) accomplish is certainly one of the most complex undertakings of recent years – both in terms of business and brand. Heading: from being a manufacturer of premium automobiles to becoming a provider of individual mobility.

With the Now family, a whole world of mobility offers is being created and not just an isolated solution as with Uber or Lyft. Individual mobility with one's own vehicle – when, where, with whom, where I want to go – is being replaced by transport that promises the same individuality, but with completely different means of transport – depending on the situation. Perhaps in a few years we will say that this change was as epoch-making as the change from the stagecoach to the automobile.

1. The joint venture
There is the coming together of two long-standing rivals – both with the claim to be the world's leading premium car manufacturer. This is a field in which they will continue to compete in the future. Daimler and the BMW Group will therefore be both partners and competitors in the future – »frenemies« for short. The overall design of the joint venture must probably also be viewed from this perspective. In this respect, it may have to be understood that the joint venture actually consists of five joint ventures, each of which is headed by a separate management team.

2. The logic of the brand family
Some names we already know (from BMW), others are new: Drive Now becomes Share Now. Charge Now and Park Now already existed, and these are pretty self-explanatory. Why didn't they just stay with Drive Now? That would be the same logic as with Charge and Park – so »what you read is what you get».

It is quite possible that this choice also has something to do with the »merger logic« – both partners want to act on an equal footing with each other. All right – Share now. Unfortunately, the system becomes somewhat inconsistent with Reach Now and Free Now. In what respect do I reach or free something, the viewer may ask himself. Or am I even being freed? So read the press fact sheet and notice: »Free Now« is something like »Uber« and »Reach Now« is something like – I don't know. Somehow a combination of everything, something above? I understand: multimodal and on-demand, anyway. Every system – even names – gets harder to sustain the more elements it has.

3. Familiar brands
We had gotten used to brands such as Mytaxi or moovel by now – unfortunately, over time, these are disappearing completely from the market again. A lot of brand equity and associated investments will be lost, but given the new business model, this can't be prevented.

The overall construction is still a bit difficult to remember and understand. And what is the name of the whole thing? Your Now, aha. Conclusion: The customer wants it to be as simple as possible – at the moment it is still a bit complicated.

4. The legal side
Perhaps the whole construct is also owed to the trademark law: One needs company names, the corresponding trademark rights and registrations in all relevant regions and classes of goods, and of course the domains in all relevant top level domains. And finally, we know that time pressure can sometimes rob you of sleep during these projects. Not to mention preliminary injunctions or delimitation agreements with holders of older trademark rights.

5. The brand appearance
Everything has to be transformed into a corresponding visual brand appearance. It has to look attractive, be easy to implement in all media of the brand experience chain and be appealing to all decision-makers. Due to time pressure, different names and different design approaches are often pursued in parallel, depending on which name clears all the hurdles of trademark law. Finally, the agency in charge also has the task of leading a mostly diverse group of decision-makers to a collective decision. This requires a lot of specialist know-how and diplomatic skills. On the other hand, one can use the »normative power of the urgent« for oneself as D-day is coming closer and closer!

6. Last but not least
What we have seen and read so far may only be an intermediate step: The press release states that the new company or companies are leading and globally active »game changers«. Today's 60 million customers should benefit from a seamless, integrated and sustainable ecosystem of diverse mobility offerings. The five services are soon to become just one, continues the article. The goal is a fleet of vehicles that are exclusively electric and autonomous and that park and recharge themselves.

Conclusion: Despite all the cautious criticism - from a brand-strategic point of view, there is little to criticize about the overall concept if all relevant aspects are taken into account. Taste and design can be argued a lot – I am curious to see how the Now family will continue in the future. Although the offer is not yet seamless and therefore very easy to use, it certainly still can be. 


Author: Christopher Wünsche
Published (in German) by Horizont, Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Source: https://www.horizont.net/marketing/kommentare/now-what-was-von-dem-mobility-joint-venture-von-daimler-und-bmw-aus-markensicht-zu-halten-ist-173187

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Truffle Bay is an owner-managed, integrated strategic brand consulting and design agency based in Munich. With clarity and creativity we help ambitious companies and entrepreneurs to discover, define, design and bring to life their unique identity – to create strong brands as the compass and catalyst of entrepreneurial change processes as well as attractive and differentiating brand experiences to win and retain customers and employees.

Truffle Bay is a member of bvik – Bundesverband Industrie Kommunikation e.V. Test


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