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Branding + Intentional Marketing = Power (and Acceleration)

When Sam, my Subaru salesperson of 15 years appeared as I was servicing my car recently, I knew something intentional was at work.

This is our family’s third Subaru Outback and Sam has been with us since the first one in 2008--not only for the sale, but at every service appointment over the years. It was on the fourth or fifth service appointment when Sam walked through the door to the waiting room with a smile on his face that I realized this was no mere coincidence. It was intentional.

From cars to plane travel, hospitality to advisory services, there is much to be learned from companies that understand the value of their brand. More importantly, there is much to be learned about branding as a vital part of a business, particularly when aligned with intentional marketing strategy.

Subaru does it really well. The Subaru brand, “Subaru. More Than A Car Company” and the “Subaru Love Promise” is underpinned by their vision “to show love and respect to all people at every interaction with Subaru.” Together with their retailers, they say they are “dedicated to this and to making the world a better place.” Since 2005 this commitment, complimented by “It’s What Makes a Subaru, a Subaru,” has served as the uniting factor among the brand’s loyal customer base.

And Subaru’s steadfast commitment to its values has driven years of record-breaking sales and industry recognition. Subaru has ranked at the top of the Automotive Reputation Report by Automotive News and at the top of the Annual Ranking of the Most Well-performing, Safe and Reliable Automotive Brands by Consumer Reports.

They have worked diligently at embracing their brand identity (see Sam above) and how it resonates with a loyal consumer base. Which also is not mere coincidence, but intentional.

  • From a rational brand perspective, Subaru is dedicated to engineering excellence, safety, and performance. And their vehicles deliver on this: they are reliable, durable, and versatile. They are a maker of beloved cars. They deliver and delight their customers each time they hit the gas pedal.
  • But it is their emotional essence – their purpose, authenticity and relevance – that also sets them apart. Subaru sees their vehicles – and business – as a source of adventure, safety, family fun, and support for greater good. Their philanthropic support is well documented, and equally important to their customer base. They take the time to understand their users and what resonates most to them. Those who drive a Subaru feel a connection not just to the company, but to the wider community of Subaru owners. And that is the power that accelerates Subaru sales.
  • And then through targeted marketing, they align their messaging to each target audience’s preferences and interests based on their understanding of each segment. Reinforcing the Soul of their Brand.

This type of marketing is not a haphazard endeavor: it is intentional. It is Intentional Marketing. And it can be quite powerful.

For many companies, including those in professional services, branding begins and ends with a logo and a tagline. For others, a description of the goods and services is offered, but the branding stops there. They fail to capture their identity, why a consumer should choose them, or what makes them different.

But for companies focused on brand-building (and generating business) through intentional marketing, branding extends beyond the logo and service description.

Law firms, accounting firms, management consultants that view the client as an individual (not just a point in the funnel) and focus on client engagement and relationship-building based on shared purpose and need— are the winners when it comes to client loyalty, repeat business and referrals. And yes, even love. Just like Subaru.

Take for example Sam, my Subaru salesperson. Subaru’s brand, mission, and purpose are embedded in him. And I will go back to Sam for that next car, despite there being many Subaru dealers much closer than his 90-minutes-away dealership. I will turn to Sam for every accessory, like the roof rack I needed to ferry my son’s belongings to school. And will take his advice on the endless safety features needed as my husband and I age. Sam’s got my trust and loyalty. But it is not just in Sam, it’s in Subaru—and they’ve got my business.