The Saturn brand started in the 1980s. The CEO of GM at the time, Roger Smith, saw imports were chipping away at the company’s profits. Deciding it was time to fight back hard, a new project was launched nick-named Saturn. The goal of project Saturn was simple: counter increasing imports and create new innovations for General Motors.
What made Saturn a unique GM brand was that it was granted some autonomy. It was free to dictate all parts of its business, employees, engineering, and manufacturing. This all added up to an excellent customer experience, which led to the creation of “The Saturn Difference” slogan.
Over time Saturn built a brand that was focused on and driven by the customer, which led to amazing results. As the years went on Saturn really did gain back its customers that were lost to imports. Saturn also went beyond traditional advertising methods to create a unique experience between car manufacturer and customer. “Saturn Homecoming” events were launched, causing customers to feel as if they were apart of the Saturn culture.
Then, suddenly, Saturn lost its way. Many speculate GM saw Saturn cars as a completed project that didn’t require further investment and attention. Political drama within GM soon arose and Saturn became a target for other GM brands as they vied for scarce resources and customers. In the end, Saturn went from a standalone GM company to an internal competitor, eventually causing them to be discontinued.