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Author's profile photo Dennis Thomas


May 23, 2012

This headline caught my eye in the NY Times and is particularly relevant to U.S. citizens: Prized Logo Is Returned To Ford.

In 2006, Ford put up various assets as collateral for a lifesaving  $23.5 billion loan from the federal government. These assets included such hard assets such as its headquarters, factories and one more thing, its logo.

Now, in the branding world, we are used to saying a brand is more than a logo, it is the sum total of all experiences our customers and the rest of the world encounter with a brand, but we also recognize that a corporate logo is the strongest and most visible identifier of a brand.

So, when Ford puts up its logo as collateral for a loan, it is putting its reputation on the line, its heritage. They could move to a new headquarters, they could build more factories, but establishing a new brand is something entirely different. Without the Ford brand, Ford isn’t Ford.

Ford never lost it’s right to use their logo on their cars and trucks, but for the last 6 years, U.S. taxpayers owned the brand. Who knew? In 2006, Interbrand cited the brand value as over $11 Billion and scored 30th in the top 100 global brands. By 2011, its value had dropped to $7.4 Billion, a loss of 67% in brand value, and ranked 50th in the top 100 global brands. But despite this loss in brand value, Ford will still have to repay its 2006 value to U. S. taxpayers.

It’s interesting to note that in the same period, SAP moved from 33 in the top 100 global brands with a valuation of $ 10 Billion, up to 26 with a valuation of $12.75 Billion.

So, taxpayers, while we loaned Ford billions of dollars partially on their brand value, even though that value has dropped dramatically, rest assured that we will be repaid at its 2006 value. And for 6 years, we owned that brand. What would you have done with it?

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