The international corporate branding strategy of Hyundai and Kia are similar yet varied. Both organizations put plans into action that would potentially catapult their brands into the first-class market share position. Hyundai began its strategic branding process by focusing on improving the perception of their brand, positioning itself as a maker of “refined and confident” automobiles. While Kia attempted to improve consumer perception by billing the maker as an “exciting and enabling” automaker. Brands must adapt and communicate in more ways than one to reach a fragmented and or distracted audience. The challenges associated with rebranding the identity of both Hyundai and Kia involved the development of purposeful attributes to bring about and reinforce the emotional perceptions.
For example, Kia’s global pledge or brand promise was built on the maker’s “commitment to surpass customer expectations through continuous innovation.” To fortify this promise, through brand positioning, Kia incorporated six attributes into its products: dynamic styling, responsive engineering, well-equipped vehicles, versatility, safety and reliability, and top-tier product and service quality. Integrating the six attributes added to the brands image of quality. Even if a consumer had never experienced the handling of any Kia product, the brand image conveys quality; quality backed by market surveys, reports, market positioning, target advertising, pricing, and other facts that represent a brand image of quality to the world. Corporate branding strategies can add significant value in terms of helping the entire corporation to “convert awareness into brand consideration in the consumer purchase process.”
The overly saturated automobile market in China and Korea is problematic in that the number of cars being manufactured doesn’t allow consumers to focus on the brand message. This is evident of the lackluster sales of the NF YU Xiang of Hyundai and Tianlime of KIA Motors. Both President Noh and Lee crafted a branding strategy for each of their brands to boost sales. Analyzing the data provided, branding modifications could have been made in a few areas.
Initially, the case suggests that there were too many cars being made in China and not enough focus on consumer needs by connect it to Brand Awareness. Chinese consumers were sensitive to price and fuel efficiency, which affected brand choice. Automobiles were also viewed as a young person’s desire for a lifestyle change rather than the need for convenient transportation. So consumer’s preferences were based on emotional and intangible attributes such as style/outlook, and brand image. Improvements could have been made with its brand logo through brand revitalization to revolutionize the brand in order to regain equity. Research has indicated that Asian consumers prefer a brand’s foreign names to its American name. The companies should have established the same concept with the two declining brands instead of retaining the local brand name or expanded the brand awareness by using the local brand as one of the vehicles in the “taxi project” that did so well, instead of the globally recognized brand-Sonata.
The luxury sedan “Equus” will be launched in China in the E segment by BHMC. President Noh must focus on global customer-based brand equity and global brand positioning for this next line of cars. To establish a global customer-based brand equity, President Noah must create brand salience to distinctively differentiate marketing concepts for each market it will introduce the vehicle in. Brand image can be tricky in a global market because of existing competition, so they must analyze the competitors in each market and focus on meeting a diverse group. The consumer’s response to the brand must elicit positive judgment, consumers must find the vehicle of good quality, and it should be worthy of consideration and superior to similar cars lines. Finally, the company must cultivate resonance for the consumers; they must have enough opportunities and incentives to purchase and own this vehicle. Marketing for the product and a prototype must be in the market place long before full production is underway.
To establish global brand positioning, each market must be revised by defining the core brand association, identifying point-of-parity, points-of-difference and crafting a brand mantra for the Equus (Keller, 2012, p. 492). To establish standards and customize this product against the competition and for it to do well in the marketplace, President Noh must focus on product strategy-consumer behaviors; communication strategy advertising; distribution strategy-retailers and types of channels; and pricing strategy-value for the consumer. Marketers are blending global objectives with local concerns, there must be sufficient levels of brand awareness and strong, favorable and unique brand associations in the market the brand is sold to provide and build brand equity (Keller, 2012, p. 511)
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