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PROTON roars ahead with brand refresh, shares internal value shift

PROTON has unveiled a new logo and tagline, along with its ambitions to be a global, modern automotive brand. The tiger emblem on its cars will be updated to a more stylised representation, rendered in silver, with a stronger finish to represent Malaysia’s pride.

Featuring a new “uncaged” design, the logo shows the tiger’s head held high, symbolising PROTON to represent an arrow-head, moving forward to success. PROTON’s new tagline “Inspiring Connections” encapsulates the brand’s aspiration of utilising technology and mobility to help make human connections that inspire a successful life. The brand refresh highlights PROTON’s evolution since Zhejiang Geely Holding Group acquired a 49.9% stake in the company in 2017.

Meanwhile, its new branding is driven by three core values – innovative technology, reliability and international. PROTON aims to adopt and equip its products with the most innovative technology available, incorporating global R&D and Geely’s iNTEC advanced platforms.

Additionally, PROTON aims to reinforce its commitment to reliability by improving the quality of its products through the adoption of global standards and best practices, as well as through the training of staff. PROTON currently working with its dealership network comprising 102 centres in Malaysia, to further improve the PROTON customer experience. In a bid to achieve its ambition of becoming a truly global brand and one of the top three automotive manufacturers in the ASEAN region, it is adopting a global view to succeed as a modern automotive manufacturer that is in line with global development trends. The automotive company will work with global partners, leverage the strength of its supply-chain, attract global talent and adopt global technology to become a competitive global automotive brand.

In a statement to A+M, PROTON’s director, group corporate communications Vijayaratnam Tharumartnam said the process of converting all brand assets will take about two years as it has physical aspects such as service centres, pylons and buildings. However, changes are currently being rolled out for its collaterals and websites. While Tharumartnam declined to reveal the cost of the rebrand, he said a bulk of the work was done in-house by PROTON’s design team and it also worked with Grey Malaysia for a portion of the rebrand.

(Read also: PROTON names media partner)

Ever since its partnership with Geely, PROTON has witnessed a 36% growth and launched five new models in the span of eight months. According to the company, it achieved the number two spot in terms of sales for the year and is the only major manufacturer to have double-digit growth in 2019. According to Tharumartnam, the brand refresh and PROTON’s achievements represent the culmination of the overall direction and work that PROTON has done over the last two years. He said,

When people talk about the brand, they think about external factors such as the logo. But the brand is the embodiment of yourself.

“There is a saying that goes ‘The brand is the voice, while the product is the engineer’. A lot has changed over the past two years and I think the logo change is just a part of the process. However, it’s a signifier that we have crossed some significant milestones and we have got the real heavy lifting coming,” he added.

The current logo is PROTON’s sixth and Tharumartnam said the biggest difference in the brand refresh this time round is its focus on innovative technology, building a strong supply chain and being reliable. Currently, the new line up of PROTON vehicles feature the innovative “Hi, PROTON” voice controls, while the PROTON Saga is the first vehicle under RM40,000 to come to standard with electronic brakeforce distribution and anti-lock braking system safety technology, the company said.

Tharumartnam added that PROTON aims to be the top automotive brand in Malaysia again and third in the ASEAN region by 2027. It also expects to produce about 400,000 cars by that year. “This means that we can no longer rest on our laurels and rely on the fact that consumers are familiar with PROTON. With all the competition, we want people to buy us because we are known for having innovative technology and being reliable,” he said.

According to him, while the company targets a wide spectrum of consumers with its cars that are priced differently, PROTON’s main target audience are those who are young, forward-thinking, energetic and have a sense of pride. Meanwhile, along with the logo change, PROTON also rolled out a new vision, mission and value system initially. Its value system, TARI, stands for teamwork, achiever, respect and integrity.

“You cannot on one hand say you are going to have innovative technology and be reliable, while there are no changes internally. You have to live [the brand vision and mission], it cannot just be a power point slide. While it’s easy to sell your company’s vision outside, it is tougher to sell it on the inside,” Tharumartnam said.

Syed Faisal Albar, chairman, PROTON said the company is capturing the new ethos of PROTON and its ambition to become a truly modern, global automotive brand. “Our new ethos comprises our core values of always using innovative technology, our commitment to reliability and adopting an international point of view. This stems from our dedication to our work, to our current and future customers, and of course to all of our PROTON employees, stand behind this commitment,” he added.

Meanwhile, CEO of PROTON, Li Chunrong, said branding goes beyond its logo, tagline or colours. Instead, it’s about what the company stands for and is known for – the company’s commitment to consumers. “This is why we did not rush to launch new branding when we began our journey in 2017, but instead we focused our energy on solving customer issues, making a better product, upgrading our dealer network and restoring customer trust. That is our commitment and our ‘brand’,” Li added.

[A+M’s PR Asia will come to Malaysia this November, gathering together some of the finest minds in industry to explore the exciting and developing world of digital PR. Join us for a series of exclusive case studies, interactive and thought-provoking discussions at PR Asia on 20 November in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Register now.] 

(Read also: PROTON’s Vijayaratnam Tharumartnam on why bosses can’t expect PR to just ‘buy’ a story)

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