Volvo’s shift away from safety is a dangerous image move

Ad Age reports (subscription required) that Swedish carmaker Volvo is in the final stages of selecting a new agency and a totally new corporate positioning.

After decades of owning the ‘safety’ moniker, Volvo executives believe it’s time to become hipper and trendier.

The new brand platform, says Volvo’s Tim Ellis, builds on safety but will appeal to the more emotional, right-side of a buyer’s brain. ‘Safety, on its own," says Ellis. "….is not enough.’

I disagree. I think Volvo is making a serious mistake. By expanding the brand description, Volvo will 223943 succeed only in confusing prospective customers while running the risk of potentially alienating its core constituency who buy the auto because it feels and rides like a Sherman tank. Further complicating Volvo’s goal is its relatively paltry budget vis-à-vis its global competitors.

I’m no car expert, but changing a brand’s core values and positioning makes sense only if the market isn’t responding or if the brand promise/positioning no longer rings true. Other car brands may be touting safety in their marketing programs, but that doesn’t change the way people feel about Volvos.

In my mind, Volvo will always be the car I want my kids driving. Unless, that is, they start trying to convince me that Volvos are sleeker and sexier than, say, a Ferrari or Maserati. If they do, I’ll accelerate past their dealer showrooms faster than you can say ‘zero to 60.’

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