Page 1: Introduction
We identify with products in a variety of ways. At a simple level we may buy a coat in order to keep warm or a can of cola to drink. Consumer behaviour is a complex process and we all have complex motives for the things we do. There are probably types of coats we would not be prepared to wear or cans of cola we would not like to be seen drinking in public! A product is therefore not simply a way of keeping us warm or giving us something to drink, it is more than this. It does not meet a single need; the ownership and use of a product involves a whole range of factors which make up the product concept. At the heart of this is the process of branding.
A brand comprises a range of features which identify the products of an organisation. For example, a name, sign, term, symbol or other creative element. This case study focuses upon the rebirth of a much-loved brand with a unique British heritage - the MG.
The brand originated when Cecil Kimber became General Manager of the Morris Garages dealership in 1922. The business had been founded by William Morris before he became a car manufacturer and by this time was the Oxford outlet for Morris cars. Beginning with stylish coach built bodies on Morris chassis, he developed modifications for more sporting performance and handling. Probably without realising what a momentous decision he was taking, Kimber adopted the acronym ‘MG’ for his 1924 creations, which became known as ‘MG Supersports’ and making a shy appearance on these cars was a neat little octagonal motif incorporating those magic initials.
From 1925 a range of MG Super Sports models was offered and the sales success of the early MG cars was such that it became necessary to open a separate factory for their production. The MG Car Company came into being in 1930. The years before the war were classic ones with more than 30 different models available by 1939. Driving in the 1930s conjures up a stark contrast to the driving on the motorways of today. It creates images of narrow lanes surrounded by hedgerows, multi-directional signposts and a sense of exhilaration, combined with a feeling of new-found freedom supplied through engineering achievement.
Others identified with the virtues of owing something truly British and, after the war, MGs were sold overseas in large quantities, particularly in the USA. The MG Midget brought lowcost motoring for the MG enthusiast and continued in production until 1979. The MGB replaced the MGA in 1962 and was the mainstay of production until the end of 1980
Though MG versions of popular saloons such as the Metro, Maestro and Montego were produced during the 80s, they were not the affordable exhilarating sports cars of the past. To celebrate 30 years of the MGB a limited edition was launched in 1992.
Seventy years after Cecil Kimber had adopted the acronym ‘MG’ the brand had reached a low point in its existence. Its life had been distinct and memorable and, though it appeared to be dying, as we shall see, it was not yet dead!