Corporate Eye

Toyota Scion Unleashes Brand Manifesto

scion-toyotaIf you’re releasing something called a “brand manifesto”, then it better be good.  It better be unique, incredible, and downright jaw-dropping.  Last week, Toyota’s Scion brand released what it refers to as its own brand manifesto.  Unfortunately, it’s neither unique nor incredible, and it’s definitely not jaw-dropping. Instead, the Scion brand manifesto delivers a message that brands targeting young consumers rely on all the time – “we’re cool and we don’t conform.”

I’m not saying the new Scion ads using the messages of the brand manifesto aren’t good.  I’m sure they’ll appeal to some of Scion’s target audience.  All I’m saying is not to declare “brand manifesto” when it’s really just a new ad campaign.  If you’re going to go so far as to brand your brand message, then dare to be different just like the Scion brand manifesto claims but doesn’t deliver on.  It’s a missed opportunity that leaves the audience feeling let down, which is never a good thing.

The lesson to learn is this — don’t set consumer expectations that you can’t live up to.  A brand manifesto is something I’d expect to see from a revitalization attempt by a company like Microsoft, not Toyota.  I didn’t know Toyota was that desperate yet.  In other words, don’t exaggerate and don’t try to make your brand be more than what it really is.  I’m sure the Scion target audience of the youngest car buyers aren’t impressed by the announcement of a Scion brand manifesto.

I will give Scion props for including an online element to the campaign, although that effort leaves much to be desired considering the target audience.  For example, consumers could visit where they could reveal 10-pixels of a 1-million pixel image each day until they saw the complete photo of the Scion up for grabs in a sweepstakes.  Or they could visit a second site where, according to Brandweek, they could “turn their own manifestos into videos.”

What do you think?  Is the $18 million investment by Scion in media in 2008 and the $7 million invested through May 2009 working?  What would you do differently?  Leave a comment and help get the conversation going here on Corporate Eye.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.