Stay Informed Stay Ahead


Why don’t car firms have good slogans anymore?

You will see a little less ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ (‘progress through technology’) from Audi than you once did and a little more ‘future is an attitude’, alongside its electric cars.

But while its use of ‘Vorsprung’, like the brewer Carlsberg’s use of ‘probably…’ is more varied and nuanced today, this is still a company that values its association with the phrase to the extent it has Vorsprung trim levels.

‘Vorsprung’ is more than 50 years old, but Audi’s technical head, Oliver Hoffmann, claims it’s “much more than a slogan for us” and that “it encapsulates the Audi mindset”.

That was true, he says, when Audi made the 80 lightweight, when it made the A8 premium and when it won at Le Mans, and still it’s true now. I wonder if that’s accurate and whether bearing the slogan not just externally but internally drives employees just as much as it does customers.

After all, Lexus’s fuzzy ‘experience amazing’ feels less focused today than the totally apt ‘the relentless pursuit of perfection’ did at the launch of the LS 400 in 1989.

There’s sometimes a ‘new broom’ syndrome at car companies, as in so many other businesses. It’s easy to find oneself so close to a subject that one gets blinkered by it. But executives should try to remember that, bluntly, people mostly don’t give a monkey’s about their brands.

We have work and play and family and friends to care about, and if a company announces a new look or a new slogan, it might mean a lot to a very few people at the business but basically nothing to the rest of us.

Honestly, please believe that we just don’t care. That’s why it takes decades of subtle, repetitive, consistent embedding to get associations like ‘Vorsprung’, ‘probably…’, ‘just do it’ or ‘should’ve gone to…’ to stick in our minds.

Once they have, companies shouldn’t give up these treasured associations lightly. It’s a darn sight easier to lose them than to get them back.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *