When Toyota’s first recall was announced a few weeks ago, their brand image took a hit, but not enough to destroy what had taken decades to solifify. But then they got hit with another recall and another, with the most recent being steering problems with the 2009-2010 Corollas. Not only has one after another problem arisen, but most of them affect newer models, which is indicative of the current state of the automaker’s quality. And, if that weren’t enough, a former Toyota lawyer is alleging that Toyota had been involved in “a calculated conspiracy to prevent the disclosure of damaging evidence.”
The damage now is severe, especially given that the U.S. Congress has decided to hold hearings, which means that the news will drag out for a long time to come. Moreover, Toyota’s President, Akio Toyoda, initially stated that he would not appear before Congress, although he just reversed course given the mounting bad news.
So, can Toyota recover? It will be difficult and costly – a PR nightmare – but they have no choice. They became an industry giant by owning the word, “quality”. This will be the beginning of a long decline if do not take immediate and long term steps to regain that brand position in people’s minds.
Domus is an advertising, public relations, and internet marketing agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit us at http://www.domusinc.com.