Brand image, getting it right (or wrong in these cases)

In September the automotive industry was met with the announcement of the new SEAT Mii by COSMOPOLITAN a car “exclusively designed for women everywhere”, which resulted in a major media backlash.

With the promise of a car that is “the perfect car for confident, independent, active young women who are really going places” and “a tribute to the modern woman”, the hearts of many a young woman and marketers collectively sank as SEAT’s special edition of the Mii model was revealed with two colours options, (Violetto or Candy White), champagne coloured wing mirrors, headlights with an “eyeliner shape”, jewelled wheels and ease of parking.

Along with promotional images of young women holding giant lollipops and riding on carousels, with slogans such as “girls just wanna have fun”, the marketing and branding of the car have successful made women feel patronised and compared to children.


It must be said, there is a fair argument that women are a justifiable target (women play a leading role in 85 percent of car purchases), but on the other hand, a single sex-specific car effectively alienates the other half of all buyers, as well as assuming that one group of people are indisputably uniform in taste and what they’re looking for in a car.

With cries of “it’s 2016!” across the social media stratosphere, we’re reminded of the importance of marketing a brand or product correctly.

Flicking through the adverts in the pages of weekly automotive publications, sadly we can see that the automotive industry still isn’t completely without its stone age “sex sells” advertising.


What marketeers need to remember is that today’s consumer is extremely savy and morally aware. Long gone are the days of women as denim short-wearing, midriff baring, thumb biting, blonde haired and blue eyed.

What women relate to today, and what sells, is a progressive representation of themselves (as seen above in the latest H&M campaign) including curvy figures, muscular physiques, androgyny, and homosexuality. In today’s society, one size never fits all.

At Red Marlin we recognise that it is fundamental to market appropriately, understand the consumer, and not alienate any audience.

Here are just some tips on how to avoid a marketing disaster.

  • Use high quality imagery and seek the expertise of a credible graphic designer. Poor promotional visuals and assets don’t appeal and will only do you a disservice.
  • Know your USPs. With plenty of competition in just about any sector, you need to shout about what makes you different. It will make you more memorable and differentiate you from your competitors.
  • Choose a relateable brand message. Do you care about unbeatable product quality? Being environmentally conscious? Helping people save money? Saving lives? These core values should be the forefront of your marketing messages.
  • Show off (in the right ways). There’s no harm in making your achievements and accolades known. If you’ve won a award or have some great reviews, make them visible.
  • Don’t make false claims. Some marketeers rely on hype and big promises to attract customers, but if the product or service fall short of expectations you’ll lose customers and quickly as you gained them.
  • Don’t offend people. Some would argue that the SEAT Mii Cosmpolitan reveal was a PR hit (we’re talking about it right now!), but it’s an extremely risky strategy to opt for shock tactics or controversy. Most likely you’ll just damage your reputation.
  • Consistency. You brand image and brand message need to run consistently through all aspects of your marketing, be it advertising, social media or collateral. Development and progress is essential, but not to the detriment of your existing visibility and reputation.

For advice on how to brand and market your automotive business or product successfully, get in touch with our team on 01926 832395 or send us a tweet @RedMarlinPR.

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