Brand Values and Where They Come From
There are a few things we know about brand values and one of them is that they will, if fashioned and monitored properly, drive a company forward.
Brand Values at Volkswagen
What we’ve recently seen at Volkswagen is a collapse of brand values, yet all the press are writing about is that VW cheated on the US emissions tests by installing a ‘defeat device’ in the software that adjusts settings when the Electronic Management System recognises that it’s being tested. The defeat device has been identified as having been installed in 482,000 diesel cars sold in the US between 2008 and 2015.
The Importance of Trust
The problem at VW is much more fundamental, because they’ve been telling us to trust them for decades – from the TV ad with the dropped into shot Golf that bounces and remains undamaged to the ‘Last one to conk out is a Volkswagen’ image of a Beetle driving through water. They even went as far as suggesting ‘Save money on a Vauxhall Nova – don’t buy one’.
Now let me ask you, would you buy a Volkswagen now you know they’ve allowed their brand values to be corrupted? How can you trust the facts and figures that are used to attract buyers? The emissions issue is just the gloss on the top and it’s likely that VW Audi will lose significant market share as its customers begin to think about how deep this could go within the company. The confidence of shareholders in this formerly Blue Chip investment (it looks a little green around the edges now) has been hammered by a share price fall of about 35%.
Do the stated power claims accurately reflect that of production models? What about the MPG figures? We already know that the 2014 Golf R has an official figure of 39.8 MPG but that in everyday use drivers report the claim to be 32% higher than their own 30 MPG experience. Translated into financial terms for a car covering 10,000 miles per year with fuel at £1.10/L (£5/Gal) that adds up to a difference in fuel costs of £410.44, or £1,231 over a typical three-year ownership.
We’re not picking on Volkswagen. Please don’t misunderstand what we mean. Other car manufacturers are under scrutiny over MPG figures and emissions tests are going to become more and more stringent. As consumers we’re as much at fault because we want cheap cars with low emissions and as much power as possible. We want 0-62 in 7 seconds or less with 60 mpg and a low insurance group rating. We want leather upholstery without harming animals and planet-friendly credentials. We have completely unreasonable expectations, resulting in car makers who have to struggle over compromise after compromise to find a balance that will sell units.
Heart, not Puff
Brand values run deeper than your logo and what you say on your website on your ‘About Us’ page. Brand values are at the core of everything you do and, if you demonstrate that what you do isn’t what you say, you can expect your customers to run in the direction of the opposition. Truth is, in 2015 you have to really give a …..insert the 4 letter expletive of your choice….if you don’t, it shows and customers notice.