While driving yesterday, my brother pointed out a new Acura TL and asked me what I thought of it. I said that while I don’t really like the styling of the newest model, I do appreciate what Acura is doing by trying to differentiate the higher-end luxury sedan from its less expensive TSX stablemate. This conversation led to what the Acura brand is trying to represent and how it differs from some of its competitors in the marketplace.
My brother mentioned that most sedans in the Mercedes-Benz lineup look very similar and I said that’s because Mercedes has already firmly established what its brand represents. Even though they have less expensive offerings today, the Mercedes brand is still one of prestige and luxury. That distinctive three-pronged emblem immediately tells you that this is a luxurious vehicle. While not quite there just yet, I feel that the Lexus marque has also achieved a similar level of prestige. You see that “L” logo and you know you have a premium vehicle.
With Acura, the branding isn’t quite so clear. For a while, Acura (which is owned by Honda) was trying to brand itself as a performance-minded premium brand. It was from there that we saw vehicles like the NSX supercar and the Integra sports coupe. These were certainly higher up than their Honda counterparts, but they didn’t immediately speak to being a prestigious premium brand. All the while, Acura was also being marketed as a premium brand through its luxury sedans. The branding got confused.
So today, what we see with Acura is a brand that is at once trying to offer reasonably priced performance and a sense of being upper-class. To give the public a clearer image of what it is trying to achieve, it may have been better to focus on one aspect or the other, like how Lexus did. Lexus certainly has some performance-oriented vehicles, like the IS-F, but the first priority has always been to develop itself into a premium brand and I think it has achieved this.
In working on your company’s brand, you should spend some time to narrow that focus and know exactly how you want your customers and potential customers to view you. What are you selling? What does your brand represent?