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Matt Hayward in Maine is Director of Business Development and a Senior Account Manager at CBC Automotive Marketing, an ad agency working across the United States with successful dealerships and dealership groups.

What Makes up Your Dealership’s Brand?

Be honest. As a dealership owner, manager, or employee, have you given thought to your dealership’s brand? If your answer is yes, great! If your answer is: “What does that have to do with selling cars?” you’ve come to the right place.  

 

Brand Identity 

Your brand identity consists of a handful of key factors: 

  • Mission Statement/Key Values 
  • Target Audience 
  • Brand Message
  • Dealership Culture 
  • Customer Experience 
  • Visual Representation

These items together create the foundation of who you are as a company. For those of you who haven’t thought about your dealership’s brand, you may be surprised to find you have established some of these factors already. Thus, developing your brand will be easier than you think! 

 

Mission Statement/Key Values 

When starting a business, the mission statement becomes the guiding star for your company. It provides a framework for your business and lets your employees and customers know exactly what you stand for. It also becomes the cornerstone for your key values which exemplify and expand upon said mission statement.  

As a dealership you may find an effective way to share your mission statement is through your tagline. I’ll expand upon this further utilizing a fictional client: Anytown Honda. Anytown Honda’s mission statement is to outsell the competition and to deliver the lowest priced Hondas in the state. This lends itself to a great tagline, such as: “If you want to pay more, that’s your business. If you want to pay less, that’s our business.”  

 

Target Audience  

With the mission statement established, and the key values laid out, you can now determine who you want to see your message, or your target audience. Your target audience is built around demographics (age, gender, education, etc.), psychographics (likes, dislikes, values, etc.) and preferred media channels (social media, radio, streaming, etc. 

As you progress and continue to sell vehicles, it’s important to keep up with your audience. One way to do this is to conduct research. CBC provides an exceptional Media Habits Research Program to better understand your ever-changing audience and how best to target those people through specific marketing channels. As you develop this understanding of your audience and where to find them, a good agency (like CBC 😉) will help you hone your brand message to connect with your buyers. 

 

Brand Message 

We recommend building your brand message around a few items: your unique dealership culture, unique customer experience and the features of your product. These are then emphasized by the visual representation of your brand (logo, visual assets, commercials etc.)  

Let’s break this down piece by piece.  

 

Dealership Culture 

Take a moment and ask yourself this question: What makes my dealership different from others? 

  • Do you offer a Return Policy or Warranty on all new and used vehicles? 
  • Do you have a non-commissioned sales team resulting in a low-pressure buying environment? 
  • Do you offer your lowest price upfront? 

All of these are great examples to include in your brand message! Choose what separates you from other dealerships and include that everywhere you have content, like your website, pre-roll videos, social media posts and more!  The key is to maintain a consistent message to your consumers. 

 

Customer Experience 

The customer experience is an important part of your brand identity and is not limited to the salesperson and customer interaction. The customer experience can range from the very large (like the state of the dealership) to the very small (like all employees wearing a branded polo and name tag while at work). It’s also the level of comfort available to customers while waiting for their vehicle to be serviced, or the opportunity to have their vehicle delivered to them at home. All of these benefits fall under the realm of customer experience and help differentiate your brand from other dealerships. 

So how do you market the customer experience? The first step is to determine what your audience wants from their dealership. Differentiators can then be included in the appropriate marketing channels so future customers understand what makes your dealership a step above the rest. If it’s amenities like free WiFi and beverages while waiting for their vehicle, include those details under the service section of your website and echo your focus on comfort and convenience in your broadcast media.  If it’s low prices and a warranty, that message fits on virtually any marketing channel.  The key, as always, is consistency of message 

 

Visual Representation 

Think about all the places potential customers see your brand. Between social media, television/cable, OTT, search engines, your website, print ads, local sponsorships and more, there are a lot of places for your visual brand to show up. Can you honestly say you have the same visual elements (think logo, color scheme, font, etc) used consistently across all media? This is one of the easiest opportunities to create brand consistency for your dealership. Keeping a folder with high-resolution formats of your logo and other visual elements will give you a go-to place for the most up-to-date version to share with vendors and or your agency (hello again! 😉) This will help maintain consistency cross all platforms. At CBC we call this spiral integration, and it’s the end goal for any well-thought out branding campaign.

 

At CBC, we have lots of ideas and experience when it comes to creating a consistent and lasting brand. Want to know more? Let’s have a conversation! 

 

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