September 19, 2020

NOW we have the salad

In the future, Daimler and BMW will work together on mobility services. Thanks for that. Digital editor-in-chief Jochen Knecht says that one also sacrifices established brands such as MyTaxi.

60 million customers worldwide, 1,000 new jobs, one billion euros in investment. If two auto dinosaurs throw their mobility quartet together, anything but large numbers would be a real surprise. The jointly written press release talks about a “game changer in the growing market for urban mobility”. Or a little more specific: the two groups are merging their existing offers in the areas of car sharing, ride hailing, parking, charging and networking of transport systems.

5 joint ventures instead of 14 individual brands

In future, the network will comprise five joint ventures: Reach Now takes care of the networking of traffic systems, Charge Now helps electric car drivers to charge the batteries in an uncomplicated manner, Free Now arranges carpooling and taxis, park Now helps you find the perfect parking space and Share Now bundles all car-sharing activities. So far, so important, right and sensible. The step was long overdue. German or European small states do not help with the view of the global markets and the competitors, all of whom have plenty of digitally earned play money, think in dimensions that do not stop at countries or continents. To make matters worse, the Ubers, Lyfts and Co. in most cases only have to operate profitably at some point later, not to mention the lack of strict data protection guidelines.

New brands that stand for nothing

So everything was done right in Munich and Stuttgart. Unfortunately, no. Admittedly, the step away from 14 individual brands to five mobility joint ventures with the hip “Now” in the name seems consistent and courageous, but in reverse also means the end of established (digital) brands such as DriveNow, Car2Go and myTaxi . What remains are five new branded envelopes that initially stand for nothing. There is no question that starting over on a blank sheet of paper has a certain fascination. But if you look at hipsters and the rest of the target group, you know that Car2Go has already achieved the brand status of a so-called deonym, where the name has become a generic term, such as Styrofoam or Tesa. BASF or Beiersdorf would probably not consider renaming their product “Foam Now” or “Glue Now” for any merger in the world.

Daimler’s own taxi broker was particularly badly hit. MyTaxi becomes “Free Now”? Please what? This is nothing more than negligent brand murder and basically shows how little the automobile silverback actually understood about digitization. Or how else can it be explained that a globally known and well-established brand like MyTaxi is being sacrificed unscrupulously and must in future try to convince passengers that the app does not want to give them a free parking space. Or a free hot drink. You can do everything. With a lot of marketing money. But that has just been invested before. For example in the construction and expansion of MyTaxi.