Volkswagen USA: what is happening?

Since my visit to the New York auto show in April I have been wondering about the Volkswagen brand positioning here in the USA. In Europe Volkswagen is really positioned as the peoples car and as such their visual identity and communication reflects that.

Here in the USA it has been different and VW has been making some steps a long the way. Take a look at the examples below:

Playing tough...
Previous website: playing tough...
... friendly, the brand for everybody
Current website: perhaps too premium design? And... where are the People?
Very sophisticated at the New York auto show April 2009
Very sophisticated and premium at the New York auto show April 2009
Even though next to Audi, the VW stand really looked much more premium
The Audi stand next to VW looked really basic...

Yes, Volkswagen has made progress from the tough looking old website design to the more approachable current design but it still feels Volkswagen is a bit lost.

It is lost in its positioning against Audi, the other brand in the Volkswagen group.

In order to be the people car it should not out win Audi in webpage design. It should also not out win Audi either in big events like the New York Autoshow. It should never out win Audi.

What should Volkswagen do? It is of course up to the Volkswagen Group to figure out how to play with Audi, VW and Porsche in their brand portfolio but it is clear that there is some clear overlap at the moment. That is bad, as it will decrease distinctiveness of these wonderful brands against competition. My recommendation would be to bring much more focus on what made Volkswagen big: being the people car and Das Auto! There is a lot to play with when you think of a car for the people. That is, The Car for The People!

One thought on “Volkswagen USA: what is happening?”

  1. Hmm. Not so sure if that is different from Germany actually. The post war peoples car (=good value for money) has been pretty much taken by Japanese brands during the 80s.

    Also eg Toyota not only leads quality measures but offers comparable cars for lower prices. As a consequence VW needs to justify its price premium. Quality is one angle, backed up with German origin “Das Auto” and engineering competence. It needs to stay “below” Audi and above eg Toyota. A tricky one.

    Utilizing the fact that European/German cars in general have a better/more premium reputation in the US seems to be a good idea. And clarifying the difference to Audi a constant challenge…

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