The Ultimate Guide To Developing An Automotive Brand

In the automotive industry standing out is becoming harder than ever. Many automotive companies are keen to become the biggest and most powerful brands around. To do this though you first need to be aware of what a brand identity actually is, what is involved in making the perfect brand for your business and why it is so crucial to have a well-thought-out, long-term strategy that allows your brand to grow stronger over time.

A business’s branding is more important than you might think. On the outside, your brand may seem like it consists only of elements such as logos and colours, but your brand is actually the entire identity of your business. Your brand gives you personality.” – Forbes

 

What Is A Brand Identity?

A brand identity is the visible elements of a brand that are used to identify it. This includes colours, designs, shapes, slogans, etc. A common mistake is that the logo alone represents a brand, but this is not the case and would be your first mistake. The logo can be the symbol of your business, but it is not the entirety of the brand.

Your business’s brand is the way your company is seen and perceived, and this perception ultimately shapes belief and customer behaviour and how they engage with your brand. With millions of businesses trying to make a name for themselves, a powerful brand and an effective brand strategy will give you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. So, now you know what a brand identity is, what makes a good one?

 

What Makes A Good Brand?

  • A clear focus and a defined goal 

A strong brand is efficient in generating referrals and organic traffic. The only way of doing this is by being consistent and clear by helping the customers know EXACTLY what to expect every time they experience your brand. Your brand represents you and your promise to your customer and this should be one of your top priorities.

  • Symbolisation of the products/services

The brand should reflect the organisation’s services/products and views, and the logo is the perfect place to do this. Your logo offers a visual representation of the greater meaning behind your brand and should be utilised. For example, Nike’s swoosh is symbolic of the wings of the Greek goddess of victory. Nike plays with the connection of their shoes and achieving success.

  • Aware of its target demographic

Being aware of your target demographic/audience allows you to focus your marketing efforts on the people that are likely to use your services. When you know who your audience is and what they want, you know how to speak to them. It is crucial that your brand identity focuses on the target audience every step of the way.

  • Has a defined USP (Unique Selling Point)

Your brand identity should shout about the USP, otherwise, how are people going to know about it? If your brand’s unique selling point is present everywhere, your overall brand identity will be in a much better place strategically compared to your competitors.

  • Aware of the competition

It is very important that you are aware of your competitor’s branding and overall marketing efforts. Research what they do well, don’t do well, and what’s missing. Find out what your services offer that the competitors don’t and capitalise on it. Turning people into loyal customers with your branding stems from finding out what they didn’t like about the competitors.

  • Strong brand recognition/awareness

Brand awareness leads to trust, meaning the more recognition the brand has the more successful it will be. The goal is to stand out from the crowd and be widely recognised as the better option than the rest. There are endless ways to build brand awareness that we go into more detail about later in the article.

 

Examples of Strong Automotive Brands

Tesla

Tesla is the perfect example of a modern car manufacturer. They are widely known as the brand that exploded the popularity of EVs, with many manufacturers following in their footsteps, like Polestar. They don’t invest much in their marketing, with brand recognition and their ultra-popular founder, Elon Musk, doing all of the hard work for them. Tesla’s branding is modern, edgy and appeals to a young demographic. Tesla’s success is largely down to its likeable personality, they often include humour in their marketing, for example when they said they would release their patent’s to the public they titled the announcement ‘All our patent are belong to you’.

 

Pirelli

Pirelli is one of the largest tyre manufacturers in the world, widely known across the globe. The Pirelli logo shows the P outstretched across the top of the rest of the letters, the shape was already a distinctive feature of Giovanni Battista Pirelli’s signature, but it could also represent tyres, or even a racetrack. The same logo has been used since 1945, so is extremely well-recognised. Pirelli is well known for its advertising, in particular as one of the Formula 1 main sponsors. If you were to watch a race, you would notice that the Pirelli logo is absolutely everywhere, no matter which circuit they are at.

 

Red Bull

Red Bull has their fingers in a lot of pies, just to name a few: F1, MotoGP, Football, Skateboarding, BMXing, etc. Their whole strategy is to participate in absolutely any sport that they can, in order to achieve the maximum reach possible. With their main product being an energy drink, the more of a household name it is the more people will buy it. Red Bull’s brand is all about ​​energy, boldness, adrenaline and movement, with everything being done on a massive scale. 

 

SKODA

Skoda has recently simplified and refined its brand identity, overall we like the new branding. It seems appropriate for the brand and the target audience and feels fresh, bold and progressive. It’s certainly better suited to digital reproduction. 

There is a suggestion online that the new Skoda logo draws inspiration from Tesla. Both carmakers are in the same space and both have 5-letter words with similar design elements. We think that the two are sufficiently different overall that the audience could not be confused, this coupled with the logic behind what Skoda has done with the accent element.

To read our full, detailed review of the new Skoda brand identity, click here.

 

What is Brand Development?

Brand development is the process of implementing a brand strategy. This could be updating an existing brand or creating a new one to command a better position in the market and increase brand equity. We use and interact with brands on a daily basis and have reached a point where brand names are used as generic terms. The goal for any brand is to reach this level of popularity. For example on a hot summer day, some people will instinctively say “I need a Pepsi/Coke”.

The process of creating and optimising your brand development includes both visual elements, like your logo and website, as well as your brand’s values, tone of voice, and relationships. You will find that brand development is not all numbers and algorithms. Brand development can also be measured by word of mouth or popularity. If your brand is spoken about in a positive way, then your brand development is thriving.

 

What is Brand Equity?

Brand Equity is the added value of your products/services that allows you to charge more or sell more than the competition. For example, a BMW will cost more than the equivalent Toyota because of brand equity. Brand positioning and Brand Equity work hand-in-hand. Positive brand equity has many benefits, but the main one being that customers are prepared to pay more for the same product.

David Aacker’s model shows the key components comprising brand equity: brand awareness, brand association, perceived quality, brand loyalty, and other proprietary assets.

Brand equity is developed over time by a few main factors: creating brand awareness, creating brand recognition, improving customer perception and creating brand loyalty.

 

What is Brand Positioning?

Brand positioning is one of the foundations of brand development. You need to ask yourself where your product/service is going to be positioned in the market. Is it expensive or cheap? Is it high-end or low-end in terms of quality?

Brand positioning determines who your competitors will be. To understand it better, think about how a low-cost car manufacturer like Ford isn’t competing in the market with a high-end manufacturer like Ferrari.

A strong brand positioning strategy is an absolute must for all businesses striving for success, it is crucial to fully understand what you are selling to effectively market it and put it in front of the people that might actually invest in it. There is no point trying to sell a Ferrari to a Ford Fiesta owner working a mediocre 9-5 office job.

 

How Do You Develop An Existing Brand?

Maybe you don’t want to develop a new brand, because you already have one that exists that you are happy with, but it isn’t quite working. This happens all the time, brands are redesigning their identity all the time, just look at this blog post about all the car manufacturers’ rebrands in recent years. A rebrand doesn’t always mean that the brand was failing, often it is necessary to stay with the times, the image below shows the evolution of Apple‘s brand over the years.

There are lots of reasons why you might need a rebrand. Maybe sales have slowed down significantly recently, or maybe you weren’t happy with the numbers to begin with. Whatever the reason, let’s make sure that this time the brand identity does its job effectively.

 

  • Your brand identity could be too similar to competitors

While it’s only natural to check out the competition and take inspiration, to stand out you need to be different. Your business won’t work if it’s not actually your brand. If other brands are all doing the same thing, it’s probably because it works, but if you jump on the bandwagon you will never create your own unique value.

Finding your own way to stand out has its risks, a lot of your ideas might fail massively. But at the same time, you might strike gold.

 

  • Your brand was created without a strategy

Remember that having a nice logo is just the start, there is a lot more work to do. Going back to brand development, all elements of your brand identity should work together to create your overall brand strategy. Be knowledgeable of your overall brand goal, know who your target demographic is, have solid foundational building blocks, and your strategy should become clear.

 

  • You don’t have a brand goal

Without a brand goal, you don’t know what you are ultimately working towards. A goal lets you narrow your branding and marketing efforts and provides direction and clarity as to what your next steps should be.

Define your goal, then worry about the steps to take to reach it!

 

  • You don’t know your purpose and values

Without purpose or values, your brand will be forgettable. Ask yourself why your business exists and what value it brings.

In order to gain popularity in your market, you need to have something worthwhile to listen to. Build a message or story around what you do and the reasons you do it, without this your customers have no reason to stick around and connect with your brand.

 

Is Your Brand Due An Update?

Remember that your brand serves to connect and engage with your target audience, and so is a direct revenue driver. If you are concerned that your brand identity is starting to become outdated or lose relevance with your audience, then it may be due an update. Your individual circumstances will dictate if that’s a ‘fresh lick of paint’ or a more fundamental change. If you need advice, give us a call today at 01332 372728 or send us a message here.

 

Did You Find This Article Helpful?

If you enjoyed this article and found it helpful, you should definitely check out our ‘Effective Automotive Brand Naming‘ article, written by WDA founder Lee Waterhouse.

Effectively naming your automotive brand should be a critical part of your brand strategy. Your brand name defines, communicates, protects and legalises your brand, and should be considered a highly valuable marketing asset and investment. Get it wrong and you could be faced with an expensive rebrand and marketing re-build exercise which could seriously hit your sales. In our article, we have shared some tips and pointers to help you develop an effective brand name, based on WDA’s branding experience gained over the last 25 years. Click here to read the full article.

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