Toyota’s Family Tree


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Every family has its problems. Toyota, which started as a division of the Toyota Automatic Loom Works, managed to develop a worldwide presence and reputation, survived a number of seismic recalls and some actual seismic activity, is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Toyota used to be a perennial #1 on the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, driving away with high levels of engagement, sales, and attendant profits. The recalls did shake them up a bit. Issues of safety and customer care hit them pretty badly and they fell to the middle of the pack – #10 – three years ago.

Brands that start out with high degrees of loyalty and emotional engagement have something better than high degrees of name awareness, or even high degrees of brand awareness with on-board diagnostics to fall back on. They get the consumer’s benefit of the doubt. To be sure, that well of forgiveness isn’t bottomless, but it’s six times deeper than brands without that non-optional extra, which don’t get their tires kicked or taken out for a test-drive, let alone purchased.

But Toyota has moved up the list and has currently driven the brand back to the #2 spot on the 2013 CLEI (just behind Ford and Hyundai, tied for the #1 spot), which is something to celebrate in addition to their 75th anniversary. To honor that, they’ve created an interactive family tree that lets consumers connect information from the company’s history to find out anything they want about any Toyota model or year. It’s a car-guy/gal’s dream, or, if you’re not so into cars, it a really cool piece of interactive design.

Toyota reclaimed the title of world’s largest automaker in 2012 from General Motors (#4 on the 2013 CLEI list, up from #6 last year), has recently posted a rise in earnings, and pretty much leads automakers in having a full range portfolio of passenger, luxury, minivans, and trucks.

All of which may prove the truth of the maxim – the family you come from isn’t as important as the family you’re ultimately going to have.

Robert Passikoff
Robert Passikoff, Founder and President of Brand Keys, Inc., pioneered research in loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index® ,the Sports Fan Loyalty Index® , and the Women's Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index® . His first best-selling book, Predicting Market Success provides marketers a 21st century perspective on predictive loyalty metrics. His newest book is The Certainty Principle: How to Guarantee Brand Profits in the Consumer Engagement Marketplace.


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