When the news broke that BMW was to strip Rover of the Mini brand back in 2000, a good deal of hand-wringing was expended over the idea that one of Britain's most beloved national icons was being lost to foreign hands, writes Alex Robbins of The Daily Telegraph. He continues:"But there’s no room for sentimentality in big business. Monday, the third generation of the new Mini hatch joined a range that includes a coupé, two convertibles, an estate, and even a van, not to mention the family-sized Countryman and Paceman models. Plans are afoot to bring five-door hatchback, saloon, and mini-MPV variants to the range, too. In short, BMW’s done with the brand things that Rover never had the budget—or, some might say, the imagination—to do."Minis provide aspiration and personalization in a cheeky, anti-establishment package.
Critics might cry “brand dilution”, but BMW had already shown its skill in expanding the Mini range without diminishing its appeal among the trendy young things at whom it’s pitched. Clever advertising, catchy taglines and bright colours made Mini a brand that people want to be associated with. Indeed, so successful was the company’s “It’s a Mini adventure” campaign that the slogan worked its way into popular culture.
Clever advertising all added to the Mini's appeal, but the cars themselves have obviously played a huge part, too. Strong styling cues mean each new model is inextricably linked with the classic that spawned them, while surprise-and-delight touches throughout set them apart from more common-or-garden rivals. And in a society in which standing out while fitting in is ever more important, Minis provide aspiration and personalisation in a cheeky, anti-establishment package.
What’s more, BMW’s avoided the perils of style over substance by ensuring that the vast majority of new Minis feel great to drive, with taut chassis that ape the perkiness of their namesake. The Mini's interior included several retro styling cues, such as the large central speedometer
But more important than any of this has been to maintain a link to Mini’s past. The British icon status continues to rub off on every new model, even though they’re unrelated, and despite the fact that some aren’t produced in the UK at all. But – real or perceived – their Britishness sells, not just here, but in foreign markets too.
Mini models regularly account for around one sixth of the BMW Group’s total sales in the USA at the moment, the brand having caught perfectly the wave of downsizing across the pond. And as Mini begins its push into Asian markets, that success will burgeon.
Robbins concluded that BMW played a blinder, as they say on a very good day in cricket.—Paul DucheneBack to News