It was over 20 years ago, at the launch of the first Audi Allroad, that then company boss FJ Paefgen told me that a brand “is a promise”.
The overriding question for a car brand is what is this promise?
This is a remarkably difficult thing to pin down and the first question I would ask about Hyundai’s new Genesis brand. Having driven a Genesis model in Korea, I have no doubts about the quality of the materials and the engineering. But what is this brand about? What is the promise to the potential buyer?
The turn of the century saw automakers take themselves much more seriously as brands, the 1990s boom in designer brands and luxury goods hopefully paved the way for being able to charge more prices. high. And design is perhaps the easiest and clearest way to change brand perceptions. After all, the TT did it for Audi.
You may recall that Renault was channeling the kind of avant-garde design more associated with Paris boutiques, with the Avantime appearing in 2001. But changing the frozen views on a brand is difficult, as Renault has discovered. Jaguar, perhaps one of the best-known automotive brands, has also failed to break through in the big time, despite 30 years of investment and relaunch.
But then again, the story of building an automotive brand from scratch is hardly encouraging.
Nissan’s Infiniti brand (launched in 1989) currently struggles to break 200,000 worldwide sales each year and withdrew from Europe in 2020. Honda Accura (launched in 1986) is also well below 200,000 sales. worldwide per year.
Toyota’s Lexus division (also launched in 1989) has been much more successful and is expected to achieve 900,000 worldwide sales in 2021. Other than 30 years of serious investment, what was the Lexus difference?
First, the brand launched with a clear promise of ultimate mechanical refinement, enhancing the European establishment. This was followed by a very early adoption of hybrid transmissions. Remarkable reliability and longevity – two things that cannot be simulated – have become notable. Dealers have also been rigorously trained to be better than others – something few others have matched.
Looking back, it’s easy to see Lexus’ promise, even though it could have taken a substantial decade to materialize. Genesis cannot avoid following a similar path, in my opinion.
The first decade is the most important. There has to be absolute clarity on what the brand is offering compared to existing high-end automakers. And without a conventional dealer network to back things up face to face, that message and promise is even more important.
There is one more thing that is easily overlooked and even fucked up Lexus for a while. If someone buys a Genesis and their neighbor asks why, what will the owner say? Nail that, and you are on the road to success.
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This notice was published: 2021-05-06 11:11:57