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Learning from the automotive greats about reputation

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In an industry overflowing with high-end technologies, it’s unsurprising that luxury brands have achieved the best reputations. The quality associated with desirable products clearly resonates with consumers.

However, the importance of consistency, reliability and trust cannot be overlooked. More affordable brands such as Nissan, Toyota, Ford and Volvo have all been deemed to have strong reputations. So it shows glamour isn’t the only influencing factor.

This was gleaned from the RepTrak ranking of automotive companies’ reputations amongst the UK general public – and the results, according to Kasper Ulf Nielsen, executive partner at Reputation Institute, highlight the impact reputation has on business success. He said: “While the automotive industry is largely driven by the quality and reliability of products, Brits have become more aware and concerned by the wider practices of these companies.”

Just take a look at Volkswagen – the company learned full-force that a lack of honesty can have a greater impact on reputation than the quality of the products you make. As such, we took a look at the ranking’s top automotive brands – and why those firms have a more-than-stellar reputation.

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(1) BMW

Most people assume BMW’s reputation comes purely from the quality of its cars. While that may be largely true, it certainly can’t take all the credit for the brand’s success. This is why one of its greatest marketing campaigns began with the line, “we do not make cars…”

BMW’s strategy is to keep its products in the introduction and growth stages by periodically introducing new models in each of its product lines – only once in a blue moon will you see a car reach the maturity or decline stage. It’s a brand very much in the business of fostering change, sporting various slogans and taglines over the years compared to Nike’s staple “Just Do It”.

It’s all done on purpose, of course, because it wants to keep its image fresh. Take, for example, some of its slogans. To name a few: “BMW. The Ultimate Driving Machine”, “BMW: Sheer Driving Pleasure” and “The Ultimate Driving Experience”. The most important element: don’t they all effectively say the same thing?

(2) Aston Martin

It’s an iconic scene that everyone will remember: minutes into Goldfinger, James Bond asks Q what’s become of his Bentley. “Oh, it’s had its day, I’m afraid,” Q explained. “You’ll be using this Aston Martin DB5.”

It leads directly into what makes Aston Martin so great – and I’m not talking about the movies its cars feature in. The brand has had what CEO Andy Palmer dubs an “omotenashi”. Having worked with Nissan in Japan for 24 years, he has injected Japan’s commitment for entertaining customers into Aston Martin’s DNA.

My relationship with Japan has given me a great education in terms of putting the customer first and putting the customer above everything else,” Palmer explained.

In other words, it’s all about telling a story and designing content to build on the heritage and history of the brand – something which lent itself well to the image of being driven by a British agent. Its approach to niche storytelling and ability to enhance the customer experience is key to its success.

From leading the innovation revolution to ensuring variety, read on to find out what you can learn from the next three cars in the ranking.

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