Ford Motor Co. should shed its Lincoln, Mercury, Land Rover, Mazda and Aston Martin marques and concentrate on Ford, Volvo and Jaguar, says former marketing executive Charles R. Hughes.

Hughes, one-time CEO of Mazda North American Operations and president of Land Rover North America, claims Ford overextended itself when it bought Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo, making it difficult to concentrate on transforming any one brand into a global powerhouse.

Growing too quickly led to Ford's current predicament of declining sales and market share in North America, where key leadership positions have changed hands at a frenetic pace, he says.

That means the solution is to shed brands, Hughes says. “Building one world-class brand is sufficiently difficult…For (Ford) to be successful they have to get down to three brands worldwide”

He says Ford could retain its 33.4% ownership of Mazda, or even purchase the remaining shares, as the Japanese auto maker provides Ford with many of its key vehicle platforms.

While many industry observers say money-losing Jaguar is the most logical brand to shed, Hughes says it remains a valuable brand, but its potential is blocked by Aston Martin and Land Rover.

By trimming product portfolio to just Ford, Volvo and Jaguar, Ford would have a chance to consolidate its talent and concentrate on strengthening three brands that have virtually no overlap, says Hughes, co-author of a new book, “Branding Iron.”

He points to Toyota, which despite fielding the Lexus and Scion marques, mostly relies on its Toyota brand for strong worldwide growth and revenues.

Toyota's success can be attributed to a single-minded focus, shared across its entire workforce of which “99% of the people wake up every day to try and make Toyota better,” he says.