We poll our subscribers each Monday on a wide range of dealership topics and one question in particular stirred up our dealer-readers: “Do you agree or disagree with the U.S. District Court ruling in favor of Deere & Co. in a lawsuit filed to protect use of the trademark green and yellow color combination on agricultural equipment?”
Nearly 500 dealers weighed in on the topic — 22% said yes and 78% said no. The responses were anonymous, but I’m assuming the majority of the “yes” responses came from John Deere dealers and the “no” responses from dealers that carry tractors of other colors.
In an official statement, John Deere says the lawsuit is part of an “ongoing and vigorous effort to protect the company’s trademarks and intellectual property.”
Discussion about this topic can veer off in arguments about the legality of owning a color or big money always winning. However, I encourage you to not get sidetracked in those discussions.
One reader, S.S. Jackson, offers a reason why: “Deere spent millions and years integrating name and color into a worldwide brand, recognized instantly as uniquely John Deere. That kind of effort, investment and marketing strength deserves to be protected.”
Protecting Your Identity
Is there any part of your dealership brand that is so recognizable and so central to your business that you would sue to protect it? If not, then you may have an identity crisis. It’s time to really believe that branding is among the most important elements in the success of your dealership.
Officially, we think of a brand as the outward sign of a company. However, that image, at its best, becomes associated with an emotion or trait in your customers’ minds, such as quality or trustworthiness. It’s why your dealership comes to mind when they think of equipment, service or parts — without them even being aware of it.
Equipment dealers are benefiting from manufacturer brand recognition, according to our recent Dealer Business Trends & Outlook Report. Nearly 60% of dealers say customers have a brand in mind most of the time or almost always when they visit their dealerships. And, this next statistic shows the power of the dealership: Nearly 77% of dealers say their recommendations are accepted most of the time or almost always.
The question to ask yourself is whether your business could survive if you lose your manufacturer contract. That’s a very real situation faced by those same single-store John Deere dealers who once benefited from carrying the line and have since been acquired by larger dealership groups.
Practice being color blind when it comes to your dealership’s brand. For instance, if you carried a different tractor line this year, how many of your customers could you retain? This may sound hypothetical, but ignoring it may indicate you are more of a “company store” than you think.
We’ll be exploring brand-building best practices this year, so follow along with us to make your dealership and its brand identity more powerful.
Show Off Your Brand
Nominations are now open for Rural Lifestyle Dealer’s 2018 Dealership of the Year. Go to bit.ly/DealershipoftheYear18 to submit your nomination. Start the New Year with a resolution to be the best.