BMW better at branding than VW

Interesting, Others | January 13th, 2015 by 13
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Volkswagen is the largest car company in the world. It may not sell the most cars or make the most money, but it is the …

Volkswagen is the largest car company in the world. It may not sell the most cars or make the most money, but it is the largest. Currently, the brands under Volkswagen’s belt include Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Seat, Skoda, Bugatti and Ducati. That’s nine brands if you include Volkswagen itself. That’s an astonishing amount of brand diversity. The only issue I have with all of this, is that they all feel, with the exception of Porsche, Lambo and Bugatti, exactly the same. Even Lambos now feel like big Audis. So while VW might have the most brands under its belt, they aren’t very good at branding. Bentley is one of the oldest, most interesting car companies in the world, yet they feel like giant, expensive Volkswagens.

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BMW on the other hand has only three brands, including itself; BMW, MINI and Rolls Royce. And even though it would seem like VW might have the upper hand in terms of branding, I don’t see it. BMW is clearly superior due to the fact that all of its brands, though there are only a few, feel unique and different.

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MINIs, for example don’t feel like BMW’s. They have their own DNA, with front-wheel drive and go-kart like steering. They look nothing like BMW’s and have very few interior pieces from their parent company. Step in any Bentley and you can see switchgear and shift knobs pulled right from the VW parts bin. A MINI, while does still have some BMW parts inside, masks them well with their own spin on things. BMW lets MINI be MINI, but provides the financial backing and support to help them thrive.

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Rolls Royce is an even better example. A Rolls Royce looks, feels, sounds and drives like no other car on the road. Sure, under the hood of every Rolls lies the heart of a BMW, but you would never know it by stepping on the gas pedal. Does a Rolls Royce have some of the same tech on the inside as a BMW? Yes, but again, you’d never know it unless someone told you. Rolls does a fantastic job keeping traditions alive and making cars feel entirely bespoke. BMW, again, does a fantastic job keeping Rolls Royce the same British luxury car company it always was. All BMW does is provide support. They let the people in Goodwood do their thing, and that’s better for everyone.

Volkswagen has its hands too far into their companies’ business. It’s working at the moment, but sooner or later Audi buyers are going to be fed up with spending the premium money to drive a car that feels like a posh VW. Whereas BMW has specific characteristics for each of its brands that give each brand a distinct place in the market. A MINI feels like a MINI and provides a specific experience found only in MINI.

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The only true company under the Volkswagen umbrella to have its own feel is Porsche, but that’s because Porsche will always do what they want. But that’s it, that’s all the true diversity VW’s got going for it. BMW knows how to brand its products and it shows in the diversity of its products. Hopefully they keep it up so that two of the great British automakers can continue to make the special cars that define them.

13 responses to “BMW better at branding than VW”

  1. Matt Stokes says:

    It’s a sound portfolio of products that allows them to leverage their platforms and technologies to great effect. Whilst each brand has at least a different market or technological position I can see it will continue to work – my biggest gripe is that all the VW brands follow the idea of same sausage different length too closely, with new models just being distorted and twisted impressions of other vehicles – Audi, Bentley and Porsche being the worst offenders in that regard.

  2. Matt Stokes says:

    It’s a sound portfolio of products that allows them to leverage their platforms and technologies to great effect. Whilst each brand has at least a different market or technological position I can see it will continue to work – my biggest gripe is that all the VW brands follow the idea of same sausage different length too closely, with new models just being distorted and twisted impressions of other vehicles – Audi, Bentley and Porsche being the worst offenders in that regard.

  3. Mike Vella says:

    As a long time VW owner – that brand and Audi – I’d have to agree to a point. I think Audi sedans are “better” all around cars, but at this point they are going to need to start differentiating the brands better like Toyota eventually did with Lexus. I don’t think VW has ever been that bad as when Toyota just made glorified Camry’s, though.

  4. Mike Vella says:

    As a long time VW owner – that brand and Audi – I’d have to agree to a point. I think Audi sedans are “better” all around cars, but at this point they are going to need to start differentiating the brands better like Toyota eventually did with Lexus. I don’t think VW has ever been that bad as when Toyota just made glorified Camry’s, though.

  5. Immanuel Vinke says:

    Rolls Royce : Goodwood
    Bentley : Crewe

    Great post apart from that detail that needs changing.

  6. AxelFaast79 says:

    Yes BMW, until they decide to go front wheel drive… or even M5 in future AWD wtf BMW = The Ultimate Driving Machine is gone?

    • Horatiu B. says:

      Not gone, I think it’s changing slowly and adapting. They will still make RWD cars for sure.

      • AxelFaast79 says:

        Yes, but they don´t have to do anything else… If a want top luxury, I go RR, if I want pure performance I go Ferrari, If I want AWD I go audi, subaru, But if I want an Ultimate Driving Machine I go BMW, and even now they are losing that, so what we can expect for the future? …

        And this article is talking about that. DIFFERENTIATION and Niche products, not vulgar ones

        • bandile says:

          I agree with you. I’m a loyal BMW fan, we own a few BMW’S here at home. two days ago we wanted to try something new, so, we went to Audi looking for an A3 2nd hand 1.4litre going for R320.000.00 that’s about $33.000 with a 5 year warranty/motor plan, no sunroof, no usb ports, no known branded speakers (i love loud audio cars) in which they offered Bose speakers as an extra for about $3.000, bare in mind we did not ask for a 2nd hand car.

          We went Mazda as our 2nd option and they offered us a better deal for a Mazda 3 which goes for $30.000 with all that i mentioned on the Audi as inclusive including those Bose Speakers, the only downturn was that it offered a 2 year warranty. just wanted to share my story. lol

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