Hyundai brand strategy / positioning case study

Hyundai Brand Strategy Analysis

Automotive – cars, car accessories

Owner of the brand:
Hyundai Motor Group

Key competitors:
Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Volkswagen

Brand essence

A brand with a passion for progress and a drive for improvement.

Brand values

Innovation, progress, perseverance, heritage.

Brand character

Premium, innovative, modern, warm, human, positive.

Dominating archetype

Alongside Samsung and LG, Hyundai is one of the few globally recognized Korean conglomerates. However, it took many years for the brand to reach the position it enjoys today. Although Hyundai Motor Group was founded in 1967, producing its first car in 1968 (which in fact was a Ford Cortina), the company sees its roots as dating back to the 1930s, when Hyundai’s founder, Chung Ju-Yung, started taking his first entrepreneurial steps. He managed to build one of the most successful global corporations from scratch, and today it is one of the most valuable brands in the world, an accomplishment for which he is still admired in South Korea. Chung Ju-Yung’s life and work philosophy, based on the “can do” attitude (“How does one know it’s impossible if one hasn’t tried it?”[1]), is to this day a guiding principle for the Hyundai brand strategy and development.


The Hyundai Motor Company has three automotive brands in its portfolio: Hyundai, Genesis and Kia (Hyundai Motor Company is a minority owner with a stake above 30%). Each brand is targeted at a different market segment. Genesis, the youngest make of the three, is positioned as a luxury brand. However, the company doesn’t want it to be associated with a traditional, ostentatious type of luxury – rather a modern take on it. Kia is targeted at the most value-driven customer. The brand has been attempting to avoid connotations of ‘cheapness’ and tries to position itself as a smart choice for younger generations (“The Power to Surprise”). Hyundai is the most mainstream proposition, somewhere between Genesis and Kia. It occupies the territory defined by its parent company as “modern premium”. Minsoo Kim, Hyundai Brand Strategy Director explained: “Our brand philosophy, known internally as Modern Premium, is about enhancing our customers’ everyday lives via unexpected, class-above experiences. In terms of personality, we aim to make Hyundai a lifestyle companion for everyone – a brand that is warm, confident, optimistic, and which gives people an aspiration for a better life.[2]


Although Hyundai articulates its brand strategy differently in different countries, there is one overarching theme which constitutes the core of the brand – its drive to make things better. Hyundai often accentuates the fact that it is a brand inspired by the beliefs of its founder, his perseverance and “can do” attitude; it is never satisfied with the status quo, never rests on its laurels and is always looking for ways to improve its products and services. Dean Evans, former Hyundai CEO said: “We were founded on the idea of literally doing better for people to lift society. That’s almost a direct quote from our founder. We want to do better and be better in everything that we do — it’s why we offer better vehicles[3]. In the UK, this concept of constant improvement and reinvention is encapsulated in the brand platform, “A Passion for Progress” (“It’s the attitude of progressing, no matter what. It’s the persistent curiosity for what lies ahead”[4]) and the tagline, “Next awaits”. In the US, Hyundai describes its approach as “Better drives us”[5] and “We make things better”[6]. Globally, the company defines its vision as “Progress for Humanity”[7]. Hyundai executives also emphasize the fact that Hyundai has a challenger spirit.


Hyundai, similarly to other famous Korean names like Samsung and LG, has come a long way from its perceived ‘cheapness’ and ‘unreliability’ to become a mass market proposition without any major image problems. The company has invested substantial resources in improving the quality and design of its vehicles, as well as spent significant amounts of money on marketing. The best decision, which turned out to be one of the biggest game changers for Hyundai, was when the company introduced a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty for all its new cars sold in the US, a service that it offers to this day.


Hyundai, like most other automotive companies, has its own “mobility vision” called “Human-Centered Future Mobility Vision”[8], a long-term plan designed to extend the company’s scope of business beyond traditional cars. The products Hyundai is betting on include autonomous vehicles, eco-cars powered by hydrogen, robots, connected car and smart house technologies[9], exoskeletons, wearables, scooters and even personal air vehicles.


Hyundai’s current narrative focused on its perseverance, determination, emphasis on constant improvement and “can do” spirit is typical of the Hero brand archetype. To some extent, Hyundai is also an Outlaw brand – its executives often emphasize that Hyundai has always been, and still is, a challenger brand always on a mission to change the status quo for the better.

Most important campaigns

1. “Car Wash” (2022, US)

2. “Expanding Human Reach” (2022)

3. “Smaht Pahk” (2020, US)

4. “Hyundai Next Awaits” (2019)

5. “Don’t Tell” (2012)

Official brand statement:

A Passion for Progress
The “can-do” spirit is at the heart of Hyundai’s heritage. It’s the attitude of progressing, no matter what. It’s the persistent curiosity for what lies ahead. Of always chasing the next. What was once a man’s desire for better, is today the ethos of an entire company.
We have come a long way. And we won’t stop here. Next awaits.”[10]

Better drives us.
We believe that better is only better when you put people first.
We make things better.
This is always our goal. And (…) it leads to some pretty exciting results. Hyundai has always been an innovative car company. One that never stops pushing for what’s possible to enhance people’s driving experiences every day.

Our Vision
Progress for Humanity
We are here to do the right thing for humanity.
Humanity unites us and makes us stronger. Allowing us to strengthen our relationships feel connected and get more from life.

Brand Manifesto
Our idea of future mobility is based on the strong commitment that we give to society. We are here to do the right thing, for humanity.
Our focus on humanity means we understand what people want in life. To get the most our of the time we have.
We understand that time is the most precious commodity of all, the one thing money can’t buy. That is how life is not just about spending time, it’s all about time well spent.
Our purpose is to reinvent the 24 hours that we are equally given into quality time, making every moment truly worthwhile and rewarding.

This our future mobility.
It’s not about going from A to B, it’s about the moments that truly matter. Connecting people with quality time. Reimagining the future of time. Every hour across every culture. Hours. Minutes. Seconds. Life is not about spending time. It’s about time well spent.
Hyundai is reimagining time for the future.
A future that will connect people with quality time.
It’s a future reimagined for us.
Because of you.

Interesting facts:

Hyundai owns Innocean, an advertising agency working for the brand globally – an analogous solution to that of Samsung and Cheil.


1. Interview with Angela Zepeda, Hyundai USA CMO
E. J. Schultz, “Hyundai’s Cmo On The Brand’s Super Bowl ‘Secret Sauce’”, Ad Age, Jan 2020,

2. Reuters on Hyundai’s performance
H. Jin, B. Klayman, Y. Sun, “How Hyundai Motor, Once A Rising Star, Lost Its Shine”, Reuters, Nov 2018,

3. Interview with Minsoo Kim, Hyundai Brand Strategy Director
B. McGill, “Interview: Hyundai Brand Strategy Director Minsoo Kim On Hyundai’s Rise And The Road Ahead”, Branding In Asia, Feb 2017,

  2. B. McGill, “Interview: Hyundai Brand Strategy Director Minsoo Kim On Hyundai’s Rise And The Road Ahead”, Branding In Asia, Feb 2017,
  3. A. Gesenhues, “A CMO’s View: Hyundai Outlines The Social Strategy Driving Its Latest New Car Launch”, Marketing Land, Apr 2016,
  6. Ibid.
  8. “Hyundai Unveils Human-Centered Future Mobility Vision at CES 2020”, Hyundai News, Jan 2020,
  9. “Hyundai Motor Demonstrates ‘Mobility Vision’ With Hyper-Connected Car”, Hyundai News, Jan 2017,

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