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While Toyota claims that everything is fine, the recent news says otherwise. The media has turned against them, and as a result much of the once-mightiest-brand has been dipping for a couple of years now.
The example can be turned to the store level where reliance on the branding of the manufacturer is a crutch, a way of piggybacking during the good times. But what happens when things go bad? Even if they never go bad, is it really a best practice to rely on the OEM?
Building a Brand
Most dealers want a brand identity that they can be proud of. Gateway, for example, had a strong brand in the early days of consumer computing. Dell came and changed that when they made it "your way." That was, in essence, the branding message that helped to make Dell successful.
One of the best ways to do this for dealers is to use a "CAB Ride." A Customer Advisory Board held once or twice a year is a way to get the feedback of the customers in a way that is very inexpensive and potentially hugely beneficial.
Another way is to utilize events. Being involved in charity and local work efforts are another way to demonstrate involvement and build a brand for your dealership.
Finding Your Brand Essence
I got an email from someone who had hired a consulting firm to help his company find their true brand selves. They failed. He failed. He asked me if I could recommend a better one.
This email sent to Seth Godin helps to demonstrate the core reason why most companies fail. They aren't asking the right questions. Stepping away from the business and bringint it all together from the outside by talking to customers and accepting criticism is the key.
One MUST accept criticism to improve.
The greatest hinderance is not the negative review. The golden opportunity comes during these moments of criticism. You learn more from complaints than you do from complements.
Brand Recognition is a Winning Way of Life
"Once you have a brand, it is much easier to be consistent and lead," May said.
Conversely, not having a brand identity can hurt dealers. It's as simple as that. The local dealer website has emerged as the primary portal through which customers make their decisions. There is no place where branding can be more controlled than on the dealers' own website.
In the coming years (months?) the dealer website will become the highest-traffic resource for dealers, period. Currently, it's the manufacturers' sites. That will change soon, according to May.
Setting it up considering brand recognition as the winning way of life makes turning the site into the key branding tool. Commitment to the cause is the way to set expectations for the customers. They need to know that they can count on your dealership, whether it's the price or some other aspect of the experience.
The Dealers' Homepage
One of the areas with a drastic need for improvement comes on the homepage of the dealers' websites themselves. When building a brand, there are so many ways a dealership can use images, messages, and videos to help.
Video testimonials. Welcome pages. Messages that guaranty things. These are some of the ways that dealers can influence their brand with their websites.
Brand Considerations Tied to Social and Search
Searchers engaged with brand-influenced social media studied:
These make complete sense.
Read the full review on the TK Carsites blog.