Honda brand strategy / positioning case study

Honda Brand Strategy Analysis

Automotivecars, motorcycles & scooters, car accessories

Owner of the brand:
Honda Motor Co. Ltd.

Key competitors:
Toyota, NissanChevrolet, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Ford, Renault

Brand essence

Realising the most daring dreams.

Brand values

Imagination, innovation, joy, heritage.

Brand character

Pioneering, imaginative, innovative, creative, joyful, Japanese.


Dominating archetype

Honda’s brand strategy revolves around the philosophy of the power of dreams and the ability to turn them into reality. Since the appointment of Takahiro Hachigo as CEO in 2015, the brand has been placing a stronger emphasis on attracting younger consumers and, as a result, strengthening certain brand attributes while downplaying others. Jemma Jones, Department Manager for Marketing Communications, Honda Europe told Marketing Week: “We are intentionally trying to move away from a more whimsical brand image to a more daring, bold, sport and advanced brand image.[1]


Honda’s positioning, similar to that of Toyota, is deeply rooted in its heritage. Its communication often shows how the brand’s latest innovations are based on its past achievements (e.g., “Paper”[2]). The main difference between the two brands is that Toyota, despite recent attempts to add some excitement to its brand equity, still to a big extent stands for quality and reliability. Honda’s approach, on the other hand, is bolder and more emotional – it’s about daring to dream big and then being able to realise these dreams (“dare to do the things others only dream of[3]).


For Toyotainnovation guarantees better-quality products; for Honda, it guarantees joy (“Providing joys to the world through new challenges and the realization of dreams). The three joys – the joy of buying, the joy of selling and the joy of creating – along with “respect for the individual” constitute Honda’s fundamental beliefs[4].


Honda’s focus on imagination, making dreams come true and the almost magical power to transform ideas into breakthrough innovations make it a Magician brand. Its interest in innovative thinking with regard to mobility (understood not only as cars but also motorbikes, marine engines, snow-throwers or robots, including humanoid robots[5]), creativity and the belief that if there’s a will, there’s a way are the components of the Creator archetype.


Some of Honda’s campaigns are sophisticated, refined and lofty, focusing on achieving the unthinkable (e.g., “Ignition”[6] or “The Dreamer”[7]); some of them are much more down-to-earth, with a warm and friendly tone of voice and filled with humour, presenting Honda’s products as smart, useful solutions rather than breakthrough, world-changing ideas (e.g., “Hands”[8] or “Honda Ridgeline”[9]).

Most important campaigns

1. “‘300 Feet Of Adventure”’ With The All-New Honda Passport” (2019)

2. “Honda SENSING™: Sees What You Missed” (2018)

3. “Paper” (2015)

4. “Ignition” (2015)

5. “The Impossible Dream” (2005)

6. “Grrr” (2004)

Official brand statement:

We are dream builders. Honda believes in the Power of Dreams. But believing isn’t enough. As Soichiro Honda said: “Action without philosophy is a lethal weapon; philosophy without action is worthless.” (…) We couldn’t wait for the future — so we’re building it now. At Honda, The Power of Dreams drives us to create intelligent products that enhance mobility and increase the joy in people’s lives. We continue to draw inspiration from the visionary ideas of our namesake, Soichiro Honda. He saw incredible power in the freedom of mobility and used his imagination to change the world. It is this mindset that guides us to help move people forward and protect the future we all share. We strive to earn the trust and support of the many diverse communities we happily serve, and we’ll always remember who’s in the driver’s seat on the way to a better world for all.[10]

Interesting facts:

Soichiro Honda, the founder of Honda, had no formal education, when he started as a mechanic in Tokyo at the age of 15. After a few years, he set up his own company and began supplying Toyota with piston rings. He also toured their factories around Japan to understand their quality process.[11]

In the US, Canada and a few other countries Honda offers higher-end cars under the Acura brand, which was the first Japanese automotive luxury brand.[12]


1. About Honda’s “driverless” shopping cart
O. Atkins, “Honda Shopping Cart Proves Vehicle Safety”, The Drum, Feb 2019,

2. Interview with Seiji Kuraishi, Honda EVP & Corporate Brand Officer
“A Philosophical Foundation For Success: Q&A With Honda”, Interbrand, 2018,

3. The Drum on Honda’s iconic advertising
K. Deighton, “The Impossible Dreamer: Honda’s Former Marketing Head On The Birth Of Viral Content And Metrics”, The Drum, Jul 2017,


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