Brand is more than horese power and torque

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

25 March 2010

Checking Under the Hood – Car Dealers Prove They Need a Brand

Driving down the road the other day I passed by the “mile” of automotive dealerships. One thing struck me as very odd but quickly turned to frustration the more I thought about it. It seemed like each dealership I passed had at least the entire front line of cars all with their hoods up.

Why? So prospective buyers could “look under the hood?”

Okay, it was not like these cars were classic big blocks with chromed headers and carburetors. These were run of the mill Fords, Chevys, Hondas, Dodges, BMWs and the like – all recent or current model years.

I know when I bought my last car, I was basically told that if I even attempted to work on my own car, it would void the warranty. So, why would someone have the need to look under the hood?


I think in the last five years, I have lifted the hood of a car twice. Once because I left my lights on and needed a jump. The other because my wife’s battery died in her 100K mile+ kid wagon. Other than that, I have not cared to even take a casual glance under the hood (and I rebuilt my first car I ever had from the engine to the interior to the body work).

With today’s cars, no one needs to look under the hood. They just do because it’s what their parents did because the salesperson asks, “Do you want to take a look under the hood?” And because most people don’t know any better and do not want to the sales person to think they are stupid for not looking.

This is now process gone amuck. It satisfies no purpose whatsoever other than to perpetuate a behavior that has been going on for decades.

Here’s my point: The auto industry is stuck looking inward and is filled with far too many inward looking people because they think the technology is why people buy. They don’t.

Seeing the rows of cars for sale with their hoods up only served to reinforce my belief that the auto industry cannot get out of their own way. They are desperately in need of a brand that reflects the target audience, not a brand because some fanatical car executive thinks that America actually cared about cars in the same way they did in the 60’s.

Take heed auto executives and car dealers, you are not selling to the same people you did then. For most people, it is not all about rear-end torque and chrome plated horsepower anymore.

See more posts in the following related categories: Automobile branding Automobile marketing


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