Refreshed Proton: Chapter Four Uncaging the Tiger

CHAPTER one saw Geely coming into the picture in 2017. Chapter two is all about the successful introduction of the Proton X70 SUV (sport utility vehicle) a year later. The third chapter encompasses the upgrade of existing models this year that helped in uplifting Proton’s sales to regain its second best-selling position in Malaysia.

The Next Chapter or the fourth one sees a new logo and tagline ‘Inspiring Connections’. This is the fifth redesign of the Proton logo, which would appear first on the CKD (complete knock down) version of the X70 that is due in the not too distant future. According to Proton Holdings Bhd Chief Executive Officer Dr Li Chunrong, the complete inclusion of the latest logo in the company’s network and dealerships should be done in two years, the normal international timeframe for such an exercise.

What’s new about Proton’s latest logo is that the ‘Tiger’, which was first used as the Proton logo from 2000, is now unleashed from its ‘cage’. Seen as the pride of Malaysia, the stylised tiger head was originally enclosed in a triangular frame with the Proton name above it. The company’s name was removed in the fourth edition of the logo for a cleaner look.

The latest edition sees the triangle being removed completely, leaving the round logo with the stylised tiger’s head in silver to stand on its own. With the tiger’s head held high, it is said to symbolise Proton like an arrow head, moving forward to success.

Yes, Proton has uncaged the ‘proud’ tiger to continue its refreshed journey to a future with strong ambitions. This includes being the third best seller in the Asean region by 2027 with an annual sale of more than 400,000 cars.

This optimism is not misplaced as current standings go. As of now, Proton sees a 36-per cent growth in the Malaysian car market while the others see a five-per cent downturn in vehicles sold to date. This gives it the enviable standing of being the only major car manufacturer to enjoy double digit growth in 2019.

It is also connecting with customers on a better level with more than 102 3S (sale, service and spare-parts) and 4S centres (includes spraying), a network that is still expanding. Five new models were launched in the span of eight months, and Protons are being exported to two countries (Pakistan and Brunei). It is studying new export markets where it is not just a matter of selling cars but more importantly, to establish a strong brand presence.

Dr Li says: “For us, branding goes beyond our logo, tagline and colours. It’s about what our company stands for and is known for; it’s our company’s commitment to our 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’.”

Proton stresses that its branding is driven by its three core values – innovative technology, reliability and international. The first sees Proton being committed to adopting and equipping its products with the most innovative technology available by incorporating global R&D (research and development) and Geely’s INTEC advanced platforms.

In reliability, Proton sees it as a commitment to ‘reliability means’, both in products and after-sales services. Its aim is to achieve this by improving the quality of its products through the adoption of global standards and best practices as well as the training of its staff to provide ‘best-in-class’ service to enhance customer experience.

The third value is explained in Proton’s ambition to become a truly global brand and be one of the top three automotive manufacturers in the Asean region. To do that, Proton says it is adopting a global view to succeed as a modern automotive manufacturer that is in step with global development trends. Proton adds that it would work with global partners, leverage the strength of its world-class supply chain, attract global talent and adopt global technology to become a competitive global automotive brand.

In a nutshell, this probably explains the new Proton tagline ‘Inspiring Connections’. It is said to encapsulate the brand’s aspiration of utilising technology and mobility to help make ‘human connections that inspire a successful life’. With the tiger now unleashed, Proton certainly looks determined to be the top honcho again in the Malaysian car market.