Three Key Lessons Every Marketer Can Learn from Automotive Branding


By Colleen Fahey

In the past decade, Renault, Peugeot, BMW and others in the automotive industry have rethought their brand marketing to account for the entire customer experience. Lessons from their rebranding efforts can help marketers refine their efforts. Here are three key takeaways.

1. Push beyond traditional emotional territories

Automotive-related marketers have often focused on power, safety and technological advancement. But certain brands have been moving into less overused emotional territories by expressing the positive feelings their customers experience while using their products. BMW’s tagline, for instance, went from “The Ultimate Driving Machine” to “Designed for Driving Pleasure.” Renault rolled out “Passion for life” with a sonic logo that included the sound of a sigh of satisfaction.  

2. Use sound to embody your values

An audio brand, by bypassing language, doesn’t provoke an argument. The automotive industry has taken advantage of this phenomenon to venture into the expression of new emotions. Michelin, Renault, and others in the automotive industry have all launched or updated their audio brands as part of their rebranding efforts. 

Visual branding works the same way, it communicates brand essence through colors, typefaces, imagery and logos that work at a symbolic level and don’t create disagreement. An audio brand uses melody, texture, harmony, and instrumentation to do the same thing. 

3. Show you care about the human side

Automotive category brand sounds have begun moving away from those associated with the machine itself – sounds of metal and engines  – and, instead, are moving toward conveying specific emotionally-based user experiences. A marketer’s ideal outcome.

Here’s a caution for makers of electric cars: Don’t succumb to the danger of falling back into the “features before benefits” trap and associating your brand with sounds of electricity instead of those of humanity. 

Photo by Patrick on Unsplash