Ducati North America BrandingWhen Ducati North America’s General Manager Dominique Cheraki walks towards me, the first thing noticed is his clean styling, as if he walked out of an Esquire magazine ad.
His shoes are polished, his charcoal suit pressed. This is expected of a man who spent years as a broker and eventual COO in financial institutions before arriving on the footsteps of Ducati France as a Managing Director back in 1998.After some devoted work, Cheraki then became Managing Director for Ducati Western Europe, a segment he developed after merging the Scandinavia and Benelux markets together.But this is simply history to Dominique, a French name that means “belonging to God.” Now he’s in New York City, representing Ducati at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show.Before he sits down at a quaint round table near the coffee bar in Ducati’s IMS display, he begins our short interview with a firm handshake, one that creates the character of a true man.The handshake reveals not only the hard labor of a successful businessman, but also one of a man who takes necessary “passionate” risks on a motorcycle. And this is exactly why we were meeting at this location for a short chat.The reason for the interview? Cheraki’s here to explain Ducati’s newest North American adventure – the restructuring of its corporate retail identity.In few words, Cheraki makes the motive for this new identity clear – the mission of the task is to simply create an exciting shopping experience and display the core values of the Ducati brand.Dominique Cheraki says: “With bikes like the Multistrada and Diavel, we have new customers coming to us from other brands, and we need to tell them in an easy way the core values of the Ducati brand.“With the new retail identity, we’re creating a seamless shopping experience. This arrives from a very clean design, with colors chosen to keep the product the star of the show.”But it’s not going to cease at the showroom floor. The same Italian-like aura will be replicated in the service areas such as where the receptions work, where the apparel and accessories are sold, and even in the customer lounges.Dominique Cheraki says: “Everything needs to be clean and clear, and very accessible for the customer to achieve an enjoyable experience. You buy a motorcycle because it’s your passion, and we want to enhance that experience.”On the Thursday before the NYC International Motorcycle Show, the press was invited to the first North American dealership to implement this new retail identity – Ducati New York in Manhattan’s West Side.The décor at the New York Ducati shop is clean and crisp, with basic colors of white, black and gray to do exactly what Cheraki proposed – make the Ducati products the stars of the shopping experience.But there will be more; Cheraki says around 70 percent of Ducati North American dealers will also implement such changes, with hopes of the transformations completed by summer.This news of a revamped retail-identity structure at Ducati North America arrive after the Italian motorcycle marquee reports some throttle-twisting sales numbers.How well did the company do? Ducati North America announced a 43-percent increase in motorcycle sales in 2011 over 2010, statistics that are very impressive amid a dire economy.And although I only touched on a bit of Cheraki’s personality and drive for the Ducati name, there was one more question besides all the corporate talk – the impact of Valentino Rossi on the brand.Besides, who could possibly interview anyone in Ducati without mentioning the name Valentino Rossi? I made it short, asking about the nine-time world champion’s direct impact on the Italian brand.Cheraki spoke spontaneously, saying the man who will pilot the No. 46 GP12 in 2012 MotoGP brings “new emotions” to the Ducati name, something that would naturally occur when you have a true Italian riding a true Italian motorcycle.With time dwindling down, the sharp-dressed Cheraki had one simple thing to say: “The 2011 MotoGP year was a struggle, but we all pray that 2012 is going to be a good year for Ducati in MotoGP. Will Rossi make it happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.”
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This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at email@example.com and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!