The problem with Lexus is while they created great products they know people want, they have no consistent company vision of their own

A business, especially a luxury-car business, should stand for something more than just best practices and profit taking. A great car company needs its own animating idea, expressed through the entire product line—a spirit that holds the enterprise together. Even the BMW X6 has a little 2002 in it.

Such robust longevity requires a clear heading. But Lexus’s compass is being driven berserk by the magnetism of other people’s concepts. The very principle that made Lexus a household name now looks, to me, like its undoing.

If Lexus wants to keep that No. 1 spot, beating back BMW and Infiniti and Audi and Hyundai and whatever else gets in line, it needs more RXs and fewer LFAs. It better stop trying to be all things to all people. It better figure out what it wants to be.

You might find temporary success by following, copying, chasing other products. But for long term success, you need to define your own products and company vision. Product research can only go so far.

We deal with this everyday at Posterous. We’ve never been ones to do what other companies are doing. Or, sometimes, even to do what our users think they want. We know what our vision for Posterous is, and we follow that 100%.

BMW and Apple do this very well. Sometimes you might disgree with particular choices, but they are following their corporate vision consistently.

Who knew you could get product advice from Car and Driver? 🙂

2 comments

  1. This seems all the more interesting considering what we now know about Toyota as a corporation. They’ve always been product-focused rather than brand-focused, meaning they believe if they create a superior product (fulfilling the promise), consumers will buy into the brand. Every Lexus ad I can remember is centered around continued innovation of the product (i.e. the car parks itself). But what happens when your product fails to live up to the promise? Let’s say, for example, a massive safety recall. You’d hope your corporate vision and brand are strong enough to weather the storm. In my mind, that involves communicating effectively with your consumers outside of their experience with the product. What does it mean to own a Lexus other than you drive a superior automobile? (BMW is saying it’s "Joy," Mercedes and Porsche say it’s legacy). What does it mean to use Posterous? To be a part of a new community? To have access to fresh thinking and collective brilliance?

  2. RT @amberportercox: "Posterous keeps me connected to other networks I may not lo into regularly. (e.g. Flickr, Facebook, and Twitter) It’s nice to know that even if I don’t log into those accounts, Posterous still keeps my information connected. Where can I find your company vision and promise?"I hope my comment above isn’t being read as a dig against Posterous. I’m more curious about how product-focused brands (like Toyota and Lexus) weather the storm when they produce a defective product. I whole-heartedly agree that Posterous does all of what you listed in your reply (I’m an active Posterous user and huge fan), but how does that utility translate in to a brand message?And is Posterous actively pursuing a brand positioning outside of their product utility? (Sachin, you seemed to allude to it in your post).

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