Volvo Embraces Online Sales, Swedish Roots—and Personal Technicians

Posted by Dale Buss on December 15, 2014 03:07 PM

Volvo black and white grill logo

Volvo has always cut against the grain of the global automotive industry. Now the company plans to do so again as it shifts to a focus on digital marketing and internet sales, including a new plan to sell Volvos directly online.

It's been a bumpy road for sure for Volvo since Ford owned the brand for a while and then sold at the same time as Jaguar Land Rover several years ago. Volvo barely survived the recession, had to pull back drastically from a US market that once was promising, then found new ownership by Zhejiang Geely Holding of China in 2010.

Geely has infused new capital in the brand, bringing in new leadership, supply capital to revamp its vehicles and giving Volvo a growth platform in China. The brand also announced at the recent L.A. Auto Show a complete overhaul of its product line starting next year.

But none of that is enough to solve the thorny problem for Volvo of still not having enough marketing resources overall to compete with the big guys of the premium automotive market such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz and even Tesla. Plus Volvo's dealer presence, sales and brand have deteriorated badly in the once-key U.S. market even during the overall American-market recovery of the last few years.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Microsoft, Google, Apple and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 27, 2014 09:14 AM

In the News

Microsoft posts record sales as Ballmer prepares exit; competes with Amazon on cloud storage prices; admits to Syrian Electric Army email breach; and releases global study on power of technology.

Google pushes back against data localization, faces protest in San Francisco, buys artificial intelligence startup DeepMind and announces global patent agreement with Samsung.

Apple reportedly eyes mobile payments service, as hopes are high for Q1 earnings release on Monday.

AIG says it’s on offense as corp rep restored.

AT&T quashes rumors of Vodafone bid.

Accenture tries to grab STEM graduates early.

Ally Financial readies pre-IPO roadshow.Continue reading...


Lower, Longer, Leaner: Cadillac Drops Wreath to Reveal New Crest at NAIAS

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 15, 2014 12:35 PM

After 14 years, Cadillac is changing its look. The iconic GM luxury brand announced this week that it is replacing its wreathed logo with a "lower and wider" crest, following the design influences seen on other major carmakers like Chrysler and Bentley.

The new emblem was first shown back in August on the Elmiraj concept car, but was officially unveiled this week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, where executives said it would adorn all Cadillac models beginning the middle of this year.

"This new crest matches the lower, longer, leaner mantra of our current car designs," Andrew Smith, Cadillac's executive design director, said in a press release. The crest is based on the coat of arms for the family of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, the founder of Detroit.Continue reading...

Ford Hopes New Fiesta Makes Japan Auto Market a Little Less Inscrutable

Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2014 06:27 PM

Ford is looking to make a huge impression at the Detroit auto show on Monday with the anticipated unveiling of a new version of its F-150 pickup truck, America's best-selling vehicle and the anchor of one of the largest lines of vehicles in the US market.

But meanwhile in Japan, Ford is trying to chip away at decades of frustrations in that market by fielding a tiny new vehicle that it believes gives the brand the best chance yet to crack what has always been a nearly impenetrable place.

The new car is a Fiesta tailored for global drivers, complete with advanced anticollision technology, a fuel-saving engine and its lowest price tag yet for a car it will sell in Japan—2.29 million yen, or $21,800, according to the New York Times.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

CES Begins to Rival Auto Shows as Platform for New Car Tech

Posted by Dale Buss on January 2, 2014 04:47 PM

There's no better way to understand how the automotive and digital-electronics industries are melding than to attend the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each year. At CES 2014 next week, car brands from Ford and Audi to Hyundai and Mercedes-Benz will be vying—and sometimes cooperating with—reigning tech brands including Google and Apple to demonstrate which ones should dominate the crucial emerging space of connected, in-car infotainment.

In fact, CES arguably is emerging as a strong rival to any traditional auto show—such as the North American International Auto Show in Detroit that follows CES—as a platform for presenting the technological innovations that will shape the near- and long-term future of an industry that has quickly evolved to the frontier of electronics.

"You have to watch not only your competitors but innovators in general and what space they decide to move in as devices take on multifunctional features," Sheryl Connelly, Ford's futurist, told brandchannel.

That reality is part of the "quiet riot of innovation" that Connelly just named as one of the 10 top trends expected to influence consumers and brands in the coming year, which also include a growing planetary concern about water resources and rising evidence that "multitasking" leads to sacrifices in quality and safety in many pursuits.Continue reading...

brand ambassadors

Chevrolet Appears Ready to Find New Roads Without Tim Allen

Posted by Dale Buss on January 23, 2013 06:02 PM

If you're Tim Allen, you might be hoping that your return to television comedy in ABC's Last Man Standing continues to be well-received. Because there are more hints that your long-standing and respected gig as the mellifluous voiceover for Chevrolet's "Chevy Runs Deep" campaign has reached its end.

Chevy plans to break the first TV spots under its new "Find New Roads" tagline as early as Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, or even before. And while GM has stuck with its pledge made last spring not to place commercials during the actual Big Game itself, Chevrolet executives clearly are eager to begin to execute against the new brand positioning that is replacing the less-than-effective "Chevy Runs Deep."

"That hasn't been determined yet," Chris Perry, Chevy's CMO, told brandchannel at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The company said upon unveiling the new slogan recently that creative executions would begin occurring during the first quarter, and "Find New Roads" already is appearing in Chevrolet's exhibit at the Detroit show as well as on the web site for its new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray that was unveiled several days ago.Continue reading...


Fiat Readies U.S. Return of Alfa Romeo Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on January 21, 2013 01:03 PM

In bringing Alfa Romeo back to the U.S. market this year, Fiat has three big goals for the move: broadening the car lineup of its joint stable with Chrysler Group; trying to re-establish an Alfa brand that long ago was tarnished in America; and boosting output at its home-market manufacturing operations in Italy.

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne told Reuters at the Detoit Auto Show that Fiat plans to introduce an Alfa Romeo 4C sports car to the U.S. market late this year. Marchionne said that the biggest remaining obstacle is to "make sure we hit the powertrains dead on." Still, he told the news service, "We are finalizing the car now, so it should be" in the U.S. this year.

From an American perspective, Alfa Romeo is one of the wild cards that got thrown into the deck when Fiat acquired the carcass of Chrysler from the U.S. government in 2009. It exited the U.S. market about two decades ago with a tattered quality reputation. Now, Marchionne has built the marque into one that would have a shot even in today's highly competitive U.S. market.Continue reading...

detroit auto show

Chevy's New Stingray Gets Hearts Pumping for Corvette Brand

Posted by Dale Buss on January 16, 2013 06:55 PM

Talk all you want about German engineering, Japanese reliability and Korean ambition in the high-end automotive market. When it comes to getting the blood of car enthusiasts pumping, there's nothing quite like the Chevrolet Corvette.

Car aficionados continue to create buzz around Chevy's introduction of the seventh-generation Corvette at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, the so-called C7. GM is deliberately invoking some of the 60 years of the car's history by calling its new version the Stingray. It harkens back to a special version of the Corvette in 1963 that set the design standard for the overmuscled sports car for the last half century.

Corvette has been known as the life's aspiration of a plumber or a gym teacher — its typical buyer is a white male in his 50s. But automotive journalists this week are hailing the new Stingray as a revelation: a car that simultaneously remains worthy of the Corvette's heritage but that also introduces a sort of panache — and the kind of technology — that should broaden its appeal with other emographics that wish to buy expensive cars.Continue reading...

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