Monday, April 6, 2009

Poor Dorel- "Pained" to cut the soul out of Cannondale

The story just keeps getting better and better.

Mind you, this is not a story about "American jobs" being sent overseas. This is a story about a megacorporation clueless about how to take care of the shiny new toy they just bought. Why not about jobs? Well, I'm a graphic designer by trade with a focus on brand identity. I also like bikes. I have several Cannondale bikes. So this particular "story" is like the perfect storm for me. It's also a bummer.

Another thing: I happen to think that Taiwan hosts some of the best frame builders in the world. So does Portland, Oregon. :)

Anyway-- more claptrap from Dorel (actually the following statement was from the president of Cannondale Sports Group. However-- what other "sports" are there in Cannondale? Cycling, of course.But what else? Curling? Cricket? Polo?). The emphasis is mine:

Dorel Industries executives say it pained them to end U.S. production of Cannondale bicycles, but said the cost of domestic production made the decision "crystal clear" from an economic perspective.


"It was painful to make the decision we took today; the people in Bedford are the soul of Cannondale," Jeff McGuane, president of Cannondale Sports Group's North American division, told VeloNews Thursday. "We've got a bright future for Bedford, for the team that's remaining and hopefully will expand in the future; but right now the economics around frame construction are just crystal clear."

Read the full story here:

The economics might be crystal freakin' clear, but you don't cut the "soul" out of a brand and hope to retain anything. You have no brand. Nothing. A name is all that's left.

I'm going to quote Seth Godin directly here because he puts it so well:

What's a brand?

I think it is the product of two things:

[Prediction of what to expect] times [emotional power of that expectation].

If I encounter a brand and I don't know what it means or does, it has zero power. If I have an expectation of what an organization will do for me, but I don't care about that, no power.

Go read the full text of the article here:

Beginning in 2011 what will "Cannondale" mean? It will be just another name on a line of bikes produced by bike manufacturing juggernaut, Taiwan. It will be like "Scattante" or "Tirenno" or whatever.

"Feel it"?

Zero power. Zero resonance.

Since Cannondale no longer has the "soul" that it once had, since it's just another brand from Dorel, purveyor of all that is bland and boring and "me too" I don't care about it.

Zero power.

So Cannondale is a big nothing right now. Is that what the suits at Dorel want? To start over, fresh and new, to re-invent the Cannondale brand?

I had posted the last entry regarding Dorel's decision to gut Cannondale on the OBRA email list. Someone recently responded that they thought is was no big deal since we live in Portland, Oregon-- the nation hotbed of custom/inependent/small bike fabricators -- and that it would be much better to "buy local".

Sure-- I understand that. Unfortunately that's a bit besides the point. Furthermore I really can't afford to buy a sweet sweet super-custom steel frame from a local builder, no matter how much I'd want to.

My point is that Dorel are a bunch of idiots focused on the bottom line-- not what's important. Marketing isn't about making a fast buck anymore. (It shouldn't ever be, in my opinion.) It's about relationships. People will buy because they believe and care about the company, how it does things, what it stands for. Not because it has the lowest price-- that's just unsustainable.