Branding bomb: Hyundia’s Genesis

Brands do stupid stuff all the time.

They also can perform miracles.

In light of this crazy world, I’m starting a dorky series that I’ll hit on from time to time that I call “branding bombs” and, when the opportunity arises, “branding brilliance.” I’m guessing that if I do this long enough, I myself will bomb at least a few of these calls along the way. But that’s the fun of branding–it’s an art and once in a while it surprises fellow artists and critics alike.

No worries, dear reader, if I blow a call I’ll let you know. This is a learning experience/experiment, feel free to help me.

So, here goes. First up, a big ol’ bomb in the making.

Hyundia has been busy reinventing its image as cars that belong to smart buyers who think about value and price rather than falling for the big brand hype. This is hard to do when we still have images of unreliable rust-buckets from the ’90s. It gets even harder when your Accent, Sonata and Veracruz are getting average-at-best ratings from J.D. Power.

Granted, a lot of companies experience huge success despite making average cars in the eyes of J.D. Power and other critics–but Hyundia is trying to reinvent a brand. Average is not an option.

I have a feeling someone at Hyundia had similar thoughts. But instead of focusing on their current lineup, they thought they could break away from average by introducing a new, high-end luxury model.

Enter the Genesis, Hyundia’s new weapon in their new war against Mercedes and BMW.


Here we have an average brand in the midst of reinventing itself as a “smart choice” introducing a $32k (base) luxury sedan.

When in reality, if you’re a value car shopper in the $32k category, you’re probably going for a high-end Camry. If you’re the luxury guy, you’re looking entry-level BMW or Mercedes. What niche does Hyundia fit?

Rather, who is smart, has $32k+ to spend on a car and is going to do it on a Hyundia? Consumers don’t work like that, branding doesn’t work like that and we get to watch Hyundia spend a whole lot of advertising money learning it.

The icing on this bomb cake is that the Genesis is Hyundia’s only car not featuring the slanted “H” emblem on the grill–as in, from the front, you wouldn’t know it’s a Hyundia right away. What does that suggest to you?



Filed under Branding, Branding bombs

4 responses to “Branding bomb: Hyundia’s Genesis

  1. Jared Austin


    I don’t have a marketing background, but I do spend a significant amount of my free time reading about cars and the automotive industry in general. And this is just dumb (in my opinion).

    What percentage of consumers would spend $32k or more on a Hyundai? Who does the market research and makes these decisions?

    And with the current energy situation, why would you design, build, and put to market a BIGGER car? Should maybe use that money on improving reliability and fuel economy of their current models.

    If you can’t build something on which you are proud to put your company logo, you shouldn’t build it. No emblem on the front, might as well be a official statement of their poor reputation, or an admittance of the embarrassment involved with being seen in a Hyundia.

    When they haven’t been able to compete with the other Asian manufacturers, why would they decide to start competing with the Europeans who are known for precision, engineering, and quality?

    Dumb(again, my opinion).


  2. Hey Jared, thanks for the input–it’s great to hear from someone with insight into the automotive industry.

    Yeah, I’m with you. I just don’t see people in the luxury car market giving much thought to Hyundia.

    Personally, I think they’re getting ahead of themselves.

    Their “Think” branding strategy has potential, but in order for that to work, I think they’ve got to put a ton of focus on their current roster of cars. Jumping into a new pond dominated by sharks like BMW and Mercedes seems a bit foolish to me.

    Thanks again for the comment Jarded, much appreciated.

  3. Pingback: Hyundai reminds us that boring doesn’t sell and that safe is still very risky « The Rally Flag

  4. Pingback: Bookmarks about Branding

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