Nissan: Out with the old "Datsun" and in with the new.

Over 25 years ago, a Japanese car company called Datsun decided to change its name to Nissan. It was one of the most disaterous brand name shifts in history. Students in business schools all over the world study this as case study of how NOT to re-brand a company. Datsun chose a slow, soft transition, with cars badged as "Nissan Datsun" (or was it "Datsun Nissan") for a couple of model years, rather than a quick dropping of the old name, and promoting of the new. The lack of sure-footed decision-making on Datsun's part made the company stumble, and lose its footing for many years.

Perhaps thinking that most who lived through the Datsun/Nissan re-naming have forgotten the debacle (in 1986), or perhaps because they're in denial of how bad the sitation really was, Nissan has decided to resurrect the Datsun name.

Nissan is reinitroducing the brand, badging economy cars sold in developing markets like India, Russia and Indonesia. Like Toyota's Scion brand, the Datsun line will be made up of low-priced cars selling for around $6,200. The goal is to garner marketshare at the low end, without tarnishing it's brand reputation. 
All of this reminds me of a very old joke.
A fledgling Japanese automobile company asked a veteran German auto maker to suggest a name for its new car.

"We need a name no later than tomorrow," said the Japanese official.

"Dat soon?" replied the surprised German.

Let's hope that Nissan, and the car buying public are ready to forget the old Datsun, and accept the new.

Sources: USA Today, and Autoblog

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