Audi brand strategy / positioning case study

BrandStruck
Audi Brand Strategy Analysis
Audi
ABOUT

Category:
Automotive – cars, luxury cars, car accessories

Owner of the brand:
Volkswagen Group

Key competitors:
Mercedes-Benz, BMW

Brand essence

Progress through technology.

Brand values

Innovation, progress, science, performance.

Brand character

Premium, pioneering, high-tech, sophisticated, German.

Dominating archetype
EVIDENCE
Comments
1

Audi is the third best-selling premium car brand globally, just behind its biggest rivals, BMW and Mercedes-BenzAudi’s growth has been particularly impressive in the US where, for many years, the company was a niche player. Audi has made enormous progress in becoming a mainstream proposition on the American market and currently it is the fourth biggest premium auto marque there (Lexus holds the third position). Despite its now strong standing, Audi still sees itself as a market challenger in the US. Loren Angelo, VP at Audi of America, said: “A challenger brand doesn’t mean we only challenge the competition, but we communicate how we challenge the status quo and challenge complacency in our industry and in culture.[1]

2

Audi’s brand strategy for decades has revolved around progress and advancement, achieved through technology, with the strongest emphasis placed on “innovative solutions, revolutionary engineering and progressive design”[2]. To embed this philosophy, in many countries, the brand uses the original German slogan, “Vorsprung Durch Technik”, which also helps to reinforce its German credentials. In the US, Audi adopted the “Truth in Engineering” tagline for a few years, but stopped using it (which might have something to do with the emissions scandal at its parent company, Volkswagen Group[3]).

3

Audi executives describe the brand’s positioning in terms of “progressive luxury”[4] and its personality as “sporty, sophisticated and progressive”. According to Loren Angelo, Audi’s proposition of modern, progressive luxury differs from the luxury communicated by its competitors: BMW’s “conspicuous luxury”, Mercedes-Benz’ “traditional luxury” and  Lexus’ “practical luxury”[5].

4

Audi’s current brand strategy might change in the future to be in line with the company’s new mission and vision. The Audi Group has an ambition to “become a provider of holistic CO2-neutral premium mobility”[6] and “unleash the beauty of sustainable mobility”[7] meaning that it will place a much stronger emphasis on developing electric vehicles. Audi describes this new strategy as “Consistently Audi”[8], which Jan Michel, Audi Chief Strategy Officer, summarized as a repositioning from “a car manufacturer to a mobility provider[9]. In 2019, Audi announced that it wants to conduct a brand refresh in 2020 and “redefine the meaning of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’”[10].

5

Despite the fact that Audi’s brand strategy might appear similar to that of BMW, its communication has a different emphasis. BMW is mainly about performance (Hero archetype) and “sheer driving pleasure” (Lover archetype). Audi, above all, is about breakthrough innovation, the latest technology and excellent engineering (“Vorsprung is our promise”) which makes it a Sage brand.

Tagline
Most important campaigns

1. “Audi Presents: Cashew” (2019)

2. “Audi Synchronised Swim” (2019)

3. “Clowns” (2017)

4. “Commander” (2016)

5. “Duel” (2016)

6. “Desolation” (2016)

Official brand statement:

Vorsprung durch Technik” or “Progress through Technology” is our company ethos and is the core belief that drives the development of every Audi vehicle. It inspires the innovative solutions, revolutionary engineering and progressive design that have become synonymous with the Audi name. And it reminds us to challenge ourselves, rewrite the rules from time to time and always fuel our pioneering spirit. The spirit that sets us apart on the racetrack and the open road.[11]

Interesting facts:

In 2016, in cooperation with Airbnb, Audi offered a house for rent in Death Valley[12], where guests could test-drive a 2017 Audi R8 during their stay.[13] The promotion was accompanied by a spectacular advertising campaign called “Desolation”[14].

Must-reads

1. The Drum on Audi’s planned brand refresh
J. Faull, “72&Sunny Will ‘Redefine’ Audi’s Vorsprung Durch Technik Slogan Made Famous By BBH”, The Drum, Nov 2019,
https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/11/05/72sunny-will-redefine-audi-s-vorsprung-durch-technik-slogan-made-famous-bbh

2. Marketing Week on Audi’s approach to measuring the effectiveness of creativity
S. Vizard, “How Audi Is Bringing Creativity To Marketing Effectiveness”, Marketing Week, Mar 2019,
https://www.marketingweek.com/audi-creativity-marketing-effectiveness/

3. Interview with Loren Angelo, Director of Marketing at Audi of America
V. Herndon, “A Winning Brand Strategy Only Gets More Important, Says Marketing Director Angelo”, Audi USA Newsroom, Mar 2016,
https://www.audiusa.com/newsroom/blog/company-articles/2016/03/brand-strategy-q-and-a-with-marketing-director-loren-angelo

4. Interview with Scott Keogh, CEO at Audi of America
B. Zhang, “Audi Is Taking The Fight To BMW And Mercedes With A New Strategy”, Business Insider, Jan 2016,
http://uk.businessinsider.com/audi-is-taking-the-fight-to-bmw-and-mercedes-with-a-new-strategy-2016-1?r=US&IR=T

Sources:
References:
  1. V. Herndon, “A Winning Brand Strategy Only Gets More Important, Says Marketing Director Angelo”, Audi USA Newsroom, Mar 2016, https://www.audiusa.com/newsroom/blog/company-articles/2016/03/brand-strategy-q-and-a-with-marketing-director-loren-angelo
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/company/audi-of-america
  3. E. J. Schultz, “Can Audi’s ‘Progressive Luxury’ Positioning Survive Scandal?”, Ad Age, Oct 2015, http://adage.com/article/special-report-ana-annual-meeting-2015/audi-s-progressive-luxury-positioning-survive-scandal/300952/
  4. V. Herndon, “A Winning Brand Strategy Only Gets More Important, Says Marketing Director Angelo”, Audi USA Newsroom, Mar 2016, https://www.audiusa.com/newsroom/blog/company-articles/2016/03/brand-strategy-q-and-a-with-marketing-director-loren-angelo
  5. E. J. Schultz, “Can Audi’s ‘Progressive Luxury’ Positioning Survive Scandal?”, Ad Age, Oct 2015, http://adage.com/article/special-report-ana-annual-meeting-2015/audi-s-progressive-luxury-positioning-survive-scandal/300952/
  6. “‘Consistently Audi’: Board Of Management Presents Corporate Realignment To Shareholders”, Volkswagen, May 2019, https://www.volkswagenag.com/en/news/2019/05/Audi_consistently_Audi.html
  7. https://www.audi.com/en/company/strategy.html
  8. “Chief Strategic Officer Jan Michel Explains The New Strategy”, Audi, Aug 2019, https://www.audi.com/en/company/strategy/corporate-strategy-explanation.html
  9. Ibid.
  10. J. Faull, “72&Sunny Will ‘Redefine’ Audi’s Vorsprung Durch Technik Slogan Made Famous By BBH”, The Drum, Nov 2019, https://www.thedrum.com/news/2019/11/05/72sunny-will-redefine-audi-s-vorsprung-durch-technik-slogan-made-famous-bbh
  11. https://www.linkedin.com/company/audi-of-america
  12. https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/15028061
  13. D. Gianatasio, “Audi And Airbnb Offer Up A Crazy House In Death Valley, And A Great Ad To Go With It”, Adweek, Sep 2016, http://www.adweek.com/adfreak/audi-and-airbnb-offer-crazy-house-death-valley-and-great-ad-go-it-173541
  14. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8Cb4p2vUsM
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