What Is GM’s New Logo & Ad Campaign Actually About?
Published on January 9th, 2021 | by Loren McDonald
January 9th, 2021 by Loren McDonald
On Friday, General Motors debuted its new “Everybody In” marketing campaign and redesigned GM logo in a private briefing for automotive and advertising reporters as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to convince stakeholders that the company is truly serious about accelerating mass adoption of electric vehicles.
GM says that the “Everybody In” campaign is a call to action meant to reflect an electric vehicle movement that’s inclusive and accessible. The advertising and marketing campaign features influencers such as Malcolm Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point, professional surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, fitness instructor Cody Rigsby, and gamer Erin A. Simon.
The “Everybody In” campaign focuses on three themes:
- Exciting a new generation of buyers and accelerating EV adoption.
- Demonstrating GM’s EV leadership, which includes the investment of $27 billion in EV and autonomous vehicle (AV) products through 2025 and the launches of 30 new EVs globally by the end of 2025.
- Highlighting the range, performance, and flexibility of the Ultium platform.
The campaign will initially launch in the US, but then roll out in global markets. The ads also prominently feature GM’s Ultium battery platform and I believe GM is trying to build the Ultium brand into one that is similar to the “powered by” platform concept that Intel did with its “Intel Inside” campaigns beginning in the 1990s. With GM supplying Honda and Acura with its Ultium battery platform in the next few years, the Ultium brand will extend beyond GM’s own walls.
On Twitter someone asked: “i want to know who GM thinks is going to buy a car because malcolm gladwell endorsed it.” But that isn’t the intent of the ads. My belief is this is an image campaign from GM that is designed to convince Wall Street, influencers, dealers, employees, and early adopters that GM is truly serious about EVs. You have to remember you can’t buy a “GM” branded car, so this campaign is about the halo aspect for all of the upcoming electric vehicles from GM brands. And, of course, it is about driving the stock price higher.
“There are moments in history when everything changes. Inflection points. We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” said Deborah Wahl, GM global chief marketing officer. “Unlike ever before, we have the solutions, capability, technology and scale to put everyone in an EV. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this.”
The reality of course is that the most exciting new EVs coming from GM in the next 18 months and that use the Ultium battery platform are the “not for everybody” — the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac LYRIQ. GM does have the current Chevrolet Bolt EV and upcoming Bolt EUV, which are affordable but don’t use the Ultium platform.
New GM Logo & Website
The company also revealed a new GM logo, only the 5th logo revision in the company’s 113 year existence and first significant change since 1964. The new logo builds on GM’s heritage while bringing a more modern and vibrant look to GM’s familiar blue square. The new logo features a color gradient of blue tones, intended to evoke the “clean skies of a zero-emissions future and the energy of the Ultium platform.”
The rounded edges and lower case font convey a more accessible and inclusive feeling and follow a less formal design trend in brand identity today. The underline of the “m” connects to the previous GM logos as well as visually representing the Ultium platform, and the “m” reflects the shape of an electrical plug.
In addition to the new logo and “Everybody In” campaign, the company will launch a new GM.com site on January 11. The new site will share the latest information about GM’s work across electrification, safety, citizenship, and the road to autonomous driving.
“This is the year when everything changes!”
So, what does all of this mean? I’m sure many CleanTechnica readers will scoff at the idea of tweaking a logo and launching an ad campaign that doesn’t actually sell specific electric vehicles, but rather markets change and a different future. But you must recognize that it isn’t easy to change the culture of a 113-year-old company and get 164,000 employees excited about change, the unknown, and a very different future.
In my career, I’ve worked at two very large companies — Arthur Andersen and IBM — and saw first hand how difficult it was to “turn the ship.” Companies the size and age of GM need to create a sense of urgency and shared vision to drive change and pivot their business. While costly and a huge blemish on its brand and reputation, I believe history will show that Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal was the best thing to happen to the company. The scandal forced change within the company and provided a raison d’etre for Volkswagen to shift to electrification.
In the press briefing, Wahl talked about how GM rallied quickly to build COVID-19 ventilators in less than 30 days. It helped create a greater sense of purpose among employees and led to a new GM saying: “Doing everything at ‘ventilator speed’.” So tactics like ad campaigns talking about reaching a “tipping point” for electric vehicles and creating a new logo with an “m” that doubles as a plug is not really about selling GM EVs. Rather, these and other activities are more about selling employees, dealers, Wall Street, and consumers on the idea that EVs are GM’s future, and that this future starts now.
In a followup email exchange with Wahl, she shared this line with me:
“This is the year when everything changes!”
With two new EVs expected by year end from GM, on the way to 30 new EVs launched globally by the end of 2025, 2021 will hopefully not just be the tipping point for EVs — but the beginning of the new GM.
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