Tag Archives: Volvo

Go Volvo be Volvo – back to safety ? – Part III

Regular readers of this blog know that I follow Volvo. I find it a fascinating brand and close to my heart. I am raised in a Volvo family and I still remember the day that we got a Volvo 240 and my father was proudly showing the (massive) crumple zone to anyone interested.

Unfortunately,  in my opinion Volvo has lost track with safety or simply got bored with it.

In search for the core

I wrote about Volvo in 2011 when the brand so hard tried to be a brand it is not (BMW, Audi, …), literally divesting all the hard-earned brand building. In  2014 I wrote again about Volvo.  In that year the brand continued to be in real trouble in the USA. Already in 2012 the WSJ Market Watch suggested that Volvo might as well exit the market.  I was eagerly waiting what the move of Volvo would be. The real options are of course to go fully back to the core of the brand or go further away.

The ‘in between’ option

Volvo has unfortunately chosen the ‘in between option’  of doing a bit of both. The new Volvo USA site is a clear manifestation of that approach.  I really like the new site, it feels Volvo. Unfortunately it does not read  Volvo.

The one thing we connect the Volvo brand to,  Safety is simply not a topic. Other car brands can get away with this but Volvo is not any other car brand, it is the brand that is perceived to be the safest car brand.

“This is Volvo Cars”  –  no  safety anymore

The lead text of the section “This is Volvo Cars” reads:

This-is-Volvo

Indeed, no mentioning of Safety at all. I would have changed that to something like this:

This-is-Volvo-Edit

Product pages – premium cars

The individual car pages follow the same pattern, with a tiny little mentioning of safety. Take a look at the  Volvo XC90 page. Beautifully designed yet the only mentioning of safety is in the right bottom of the page. And as you will see it is a long long scroll to get there.

XC90-safety

The XC90 page is no exception. On every other car page you find Safety in the rock bottom of the page.

Value propositions without safety 

XC90
Swedish grace – Our newest Volvo with bold harmonious design, pure uncluttered luxury, and advanced safety and comfort for seven

XC70
Choose your adventure – The XC70 is a supremely luxurious wagon for those who like their adventure with a sense of sophistication.

XC60
At home, everywhere – The perfect car for drivers in search of adventure around town and beyond it.

V60
The Sportswagon That Hauls – For people who need the versatility of a wagon, but want the dynamic handling of a sports sedan.

S80
Make A statement – The S80 sedan offers first class driving at its finest with every well-crafted detail designed to reward.
“Safety is #1”

Continued to be concerned with the approach and pleased with the new design I reached out to Volvo:

Tweet-Volvo-2

And happy to see a wonderful reply within 7(!) minutes:

Tweet-Volvo-1

Tweet-Volvo-3

So what is happening? Apparently something will happen with Safety. Personally I cannot wait to see safety all over the Volvo again to stop draining the brand. Imagine Volvo explaining in detail why each car is the safest in its class… that would be really Volvo!

Go Volvo be Volvo!

Volvo: keep your brand focus on safety or be toast!

In every brand book or brand program  there is usually the example of Volvo, the brand that has positioned itself in the car category synonymously with the word “safety”. Unfortunately, unless Volvo changes its current course this good example will turn in an example how to destroy a unique brand position.

Let me explain…

About two years ago everything was still very much on brand positioning. Take a look at the screenshot below taken from volvocars.com/us. It shows the Volvo S80 page with the key sections: Safety, Design, Performance, Environment. Yes! Safety FIRST, of course and exactly what everybody expects from Volvo! Design is obviously second. A car designed in Sweden does bring magic! Both safety and designed in Sweden are great differentiators! Performance third, it simply cannot be first because nothing can jeopardize safety. Finally the environment: Volvo is a good citizen. Everything simply makes sense!

When clicking on the Safety section it will give you all the details you need to know in order to believe that Volvo is the safest car on the planet! The above navigation structure was very consistent implemented with all Volvo models, below an example of the XC90 Safety section.

Now fast forward to 2011… and a lot of brand building has been destroyed.

Look at that same S80 web page:

That’s right! Safety has now moved to the 4th place of the “5 things to know” about the S80. Also note that it is not anymore just “Safety” but “Safety innovations”. Why is that? Would I not expect the safest car brand to innovate by default? Why would Volvo want to stop owning that one word “safety” and make it “safety innovations”?

The list of “5 things to know” consists of:  1. Sleek exterior design, 2. Interior Luxury, 3. T6 AWD Engine, 4. Safety innovations, 5. World class entertainment. Wow… It feels I am looking at audi.com…

If this was not enough Volvo is happily positioning itself away even further from Safety by introducing the concept of Naughty cars. Just check the Volvo S60 pages and you will find out that the Volvo S60 is everywhere named as the “All-New Naughty Volvo S60”. Wow! What happened at Volvo headquarters?

Naughty Volvo? What is that all about?
It obviously should look like this! Volvo = safety!

Volvo this is really bad… you really had the best position in the car category, who after all does not want a safe car? Now you give your positioning away by trying to be Audi. Your consumers will not understand because to them you always will be the brand that is about safety. That is, till you proof them wrong a little too long trying to be somebody you are not. Please change or you will be toast.

Continue reading part II, written three years later.