Selling a Promise: How Car Manufacturers Built Their Brands



Over the years, car companies have branded themselves through advertising, and those ads have evolved since the days of gas-guzzling cars and stingray fins. Every type of car manufacturer has used advertising to tell a story about owning a type of car (as an example, check out this site). They’ve used print, television and now digital ads to offer consumers a promise about how owning one of their cars will improve the quality of their lives and elevate them to a new socioeconomic level.

In a way, these ads have proven true. A car does have a way of elevating its owner’s socioeconomic level, at least psychologically. Perhaps it’s by simply telling this sort of truth that car makers have found their way into consumers’ consciousnesses. All the major car manufacturers have used advertising to do it. They’ve built their names not only on the promises they make but on the ones they keep.

How Major Car Companies Have Thrived on Selling Promises

In the digital era, car makers have used the Internet to their advantage. They’ve capitalized on viral marketing, social media, email campaigns and conventional banner ads to drive home their branding, and they’ve been able to do it in a much more targeted way than before. For example, when you perform a car search on the website of a well-regarded car broker, if you haven’t cleared the cookies from your browser, you will most likely see targeted search results. This personal product targeting is one of the main differences between the print era and the digital era. Smaller companies and emerging car makers can use the same powerful tools that established companies use. Branding requires continuous attention and marketing.


Lessons the Little Guys Can Learn from the Big Guys

Smaller companies can and should use the same branding tactics that the big car makers used throughout their histories. The simple tactic of using a striking image placed next to a meaningful bit of text is still extremely effective. Graphic design has done more to pave the way for car branding over the last 60 years than any other form of advertising. The effect that high-quality print ads can have in a magazine or newspaper is also extremely useful. When a company has a small advertising budget, it’s best to stick with the type of advertising that has legs of its own.


Car Branding of the Future

Car makers of all sizes can take advantage of interactive websites to encourage consumers to spend time with their brands and even do some of the work of spreading the brand name. Interactive websites allow people to view animated infographics, post stories and experiences, and share their thoughts on social media. It provides the best type of free, natural backlinking that Google always appreciates because it comes from consumers, not businesses doing SEO marketing. Interactive Web campaigns are great at attracting positive user-generated content, so when users do a Google car search, these sites rank in the top 10 or 20 results almost as soon as they go up on the Internet.