Brand Leadership – Volkswagen Promotes Brand Chief to CEO

Automotive branding

Brand Thinking in the Big Chair at VW.

Volkswagen Group recently confirmed it will be replacing CEO Matthias Müller with Herbert Diess, the car maker’s current head of brand at Volkswagen. Diess will also be in charge of vehicle IT, Group development and research. Diess’ appointment is a reflection of a broader trend we believe we’re seeing emerging.

We are seeing a growing understanding of the intertwined role of business and brand strategy for many large enterprises. As the realisation takes hold that unless the market gives an organisation the mandate to ‘sell them’ the value proposition required by the business strategy, the chance of success is greatly diminished, and that ‘permission to sell’ is a direct result of successful brand positioning.

In communicating the appointment of Herbert Diess to the CEO role, Chairman of the Volkswagen Group Supervisory Board; Hans Dieter Pötsch stated; “Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before.

The Volkswagen Group’s goal is and remains to align the Company and its brands with future needs, to safeguard its position among the leaders of the international automotive industry with innovativeness and profitability and to be instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s personal mobility with the strength of our Group brands. Herbert Diess is the right manager to do that. In realigning the Volkswagen brand, he has demonstrated to impressive effect the speed and rigor with which he can implement radical transformation processes. This accomplishment makes him predestined to fully implement our Strategy 2025 in the decisive years that are now to follow.”

Pötsch clearly shares our view that alignment of brand and business strategy will be critical to successfully positioning business for sustained success. This represents the shift in corporate thinking from brand being seen as a marketing tactic to brand being at the heart of the business. Radical transformation is now a part of the business landscape. As the world changes, so-to do consumers and their expectations of businesses. Only brands that can keep pace with these changing expectations will achieve sustainable leadership.

When interviewed about his new role, Diess gave a sense of his vision: “The Volkswagen Group is a union of strong brands with great potential. Matthias Müller has laid the groundwork for our transformation. My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services.”

The future for Volkswagen is not only tied to their ability to be a leader in what they refer to as the ‘e-mobility space’, but to change the way the world sees the brand to align with those same goals. Who better to lead the company through this transformation than a brand-minded CEO?

Dave Ansett
David is the founder of Truly Deeply, a brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. His deep expertise is in the creation of high engagement brands that attract the attention of their audience and stand out from their competitors. David has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and entrepreneurial clients. Find out more here
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Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

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