By any other word would smell as sweet?


Following my post last week about the meaning of Ducati, here’s some breaking news on Ducati: a majority stake has been sold by Texas Pacific Group (an American firm) to Investindustrial Holdings (an Italian firm). 

What’s interesting about this from a meaning point of view is that Ducati is now owned by an Italian corporate entity, rather than by an American corporate entity.  Does it matter that the firm is now in Italian hands?  On the one hand, Ducati has certainly thrived for the past decade under American ownership.  On the other, the Ducatisti seem to think so — they’re already saying something along the lines of "Finally, Ducati is Italian".

I’m not so sure the nationality of ownership really matters to the meaning of a very nationality-centric brand like Ducati, so long as its deep roots in Borgo Panigale continue to be celebrated.  Mini, the quintessential British car, is owned and produced by a very Bavarian company called BMW.  Nor do I think it’s really important where the nationality-centric object gets made.  For example, the BMW M Coupe, perhaps the most radical expression of BMW brand values ever produced, was made in the United States.  But critically, it was designed in Germany, by German Engineers.

So what matters?  I think what matters is that the people designing the offering really "get" — and have control over — all the tacit cultural markers that end up embedded in any designed object.  To the extent that one needs to live in a culture to really understand it, designers should probably live there if they are engaged in creating offerings that are largely differentiated on the basis of meaning, rather than functionality.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “By any other word would smell as sweet?

  1. I think it’s possible for someone who’s outside the loop to ‘get’ the idea of the brand even more so than the brand itself. It’s hard to evaluate oneself, and sometimes organizations get caught up in what they’d like to be known for, rather than what they are known for.

  2. Hi Diego:
    I’m from Singapore and this is my first visit to Metacool. I’m not a design-educated person, but this is a very interesting topic that I can’t miss out. So pls allow me to share my few-cents of thoughts as a consumer.
    Nationality of ownership doesn’t really matter. Most importantly is the culture of the brand that is being projected on the consumers. For ppl like me, who lives outside the U.S. and never heard news of Texas Pacific Group owns Ducati, “Ducati” really sounds Italian. I’d assume it’s produced by an Italian company. I would’ve never thought “Ducati” is an American brand. So I’d say, transferring the ownership to an Italian firm is a good thing for Ducati. It’ll be created by designers who LIVE & BREATHE the culture of the brand.
    But of course, I still believe that an American company could have an Italian brand, as long as their designers have refined understandings of the italian culture.
    there you go.

Comments are closed.