Thinking About Branding

Figuring out how to use brands is hard.  It’s probably one of the most challenging aspects of marketing.

There are a range of options.  For example, you can extend your existing brand.  Create a new brand.  Use a sub-brand.  Team with a co-branding partner.  Acquire an orphan-brand.  And on and on.

I last wrote about branding in my post BoltBus Provides A Branding Ticket To Ride, in which I praised Greyhound for creating the BoltBus brand to target new consumers and penetrate a different market segment.

Here are some new examples to stimulate the branding juices.

First up is Hyundai.  I’m a fan of their Buyer’s Assurance Program and Hyundai Uncensored marketing campaign.

The Korean automaker has come a long way since it exported its first car to the United States in 1986.  Now more than half the cars sold in the US are made here.  Hyundai makes cars in Alabama and has more than 20,000 employees at US dealerships.

Photo: Hyundai Equus – Hyundai Motor America

What really got my attention was a Wall Street Journal comparison between the Mercedes S550, which starts at $91,600 and a new $55,000 sedan called the Equus, set for sale this November.  Mercedes and Hyundai in the same sentence is amazing brand progress!

Hyundai’s second most expensive car, the Genesis, which starts at $33,000 was launched in 2008.  Just how far can they take the Hyundai brand?  Do they need a separate high-end nameplate?

Other car makers have taken the brand segmentation route.  Toyota created Lexus.  Honda launched Acura.  Volkswagen has Audi.

Despite the optimism – “Equus will attract a new type of buyer to the Hyundai brand” – consumers want easily recognized and clearly perceived cache and prestige when breaking the bank for a high-cost car.  Hyundai is probably driving uphill on this one.

Let’s take a quick look at three other recent branding decisions.

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