I realized something while watching a car commercial over the weekend. The commercial was for the Hyundai Genesis – the brand’s “luxury” addition to its product line. My husband gave Hyundai credit for producing a car that might compete in the luxury market. But all I could think about was how I would never be caught DEAD driving that car. That is when it hit me: I am a brandist. And a severe one to boot.
Sorry, Genesis. You Aren’t Fooling Me!
To me, the Genesis is a “luxury” car from a cheap car brand – a brand that has always been loaded with inexpensive options. Luxury brands are different: Even a base model BMW counts as a luxury option. When I voiced this opinion to my husband, he called me an elitist and teased me for being such a snob. He said that I couldn’t look past the brand name to see that the product might actually be impressive. And while I may not be able to afford a luxury vehicle like a BMW, I’d still rather drive my Honda Civic than be seen driving the Hyundai Genesis.
Perhaps my husband is right, but I wouldn’t call myself an elitist. Brandist is a better term. I can’t help it; maybe I am a product of my generation or of good marketing. I love Coach, BCBG, Mac, Steve Madden and Christian Dior. I identify with these brands and what they represent. Their branding voice holds weight in my mind when I am looking to buy something. But on the car debate, I call shenanigans. To me, anything Hyundai is not luxurious.
It’s Hyundai’s Own Fault!
When they first came on the American scene, the company clearly branded Hyundai as cheap reliable cars. For years they’ve used price and their 100,000 mile warranty as brand and ad messages. The company voice was strong and truly represented their product. It’s not a wonder that’s what Hyundai has always been in my mind: cheap cars. How am I supposed to be suddenly open to the idea of a luxury car from the brand? That’s not who they are, or at least that’s not what they’ve been telling ME all these years.
The lesson here?
Brand power is no joke. Although Hyundai’s products may have improved over the years, their original messaging was so strong and true to their original offering, it has become difficult for them to break their own brand image. The key is to truly know your target audience. Create a brand that they can identify with. Create a brand with longevity. If you do that, you’ve got the potential to create brand loyalty, and that, my friends, is all you can ever ask for.