By Amadeus (first featured in the Automotive Sector report for BGB 2019)
If you want to know what’s going to happen in mobility, it’s best to ask the people driving the changes. As part of Best Global Brands 2019, Interbrand (our sister agency) asked Senior Vice President of Mini, Bernd Körber for his inside story.
Q - HOW DO YOU SEE THE ROLE OF YOUR BRAND CHANGING?
The role of the brand has not changed from my perspective. What has changed are the customer expectations about how this role can be fulfilled and the speed at which new requirements are developing. Fast and relevant innovation is the key driver to brand success. Brands can become obsolete and lose relevance very quickly. Within the last year we have for example seen in many markets a tipping point moving towards increased electromobility, driven by regulation, improving infrastructure and a broader offer portfolio. That triggers demand and with that the race to be a pioneer in that new field. Electromobility is not just a new engine type but also requires an entire new ecosystem of products and services around it. To develop that ecosystem around the core requirement of emotional products is one of the key possibilities for brand differentiation in the mobility industry.
Q - WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE PATHWAYS TO GROWTH IN THE CURRENT LANDSCAPE?
Growth will always be driven by innovation. It will continue to come from developing vehicle concepts and key technologies in sustainable drivetrains, autonomous driving and connectivity. But that is not enough for success. New business models in mobility as well as the services around the product need to ensure access to the diversifying segments of mobility. As an example, we decided to integrate a peer-to-peer sharing functionality with an electric key in the MINI ELECTRIC – the reason was that we clearly identified the needs of our urban customers to share their car with friends, family and neighbors. With limited parking spaces and increased living costs the ability to share a car easily can be a defining factor for purchase.
Q - WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO STAY AHEAD OF YOUR CUSTOMERS?
Traditional reasons for purchase in the car industry and long-term features that defined premium are transforming. For example in China, connectivity is defining premium appeal now more than driving dynamics or design. At the same time regulation impacts customer behavior. Both driving forces then differ across regions and markets. If you want to be a relevant global mobility brand you have to nurture flexibility and agility. That means on top of a solid strategic direction your tactic capabilities in brand management need to be strengthened. For me that requires a stronger diversification of the teams in terms of background and skills, analytics capabilities to track real time performance issues in products and services and thirdly the ability to react fast in terms of decisions process and resource allocation.
Q - WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING BRAND LEADERS TODAY?
You need to have a firm understanding of the purpose of the brand for the customers and then fight for what’s needed. To get these insights a clear direction needs to be combined with humbleness, and openness. I am a strong believer in the combination of analytics on the one hand and personal interactions on the other hand. MINI is a community brand; our fans and our team need to shape the brand together. MINI is celebrating its 60th birthday in 2019 – the personal stories that many MINI fans shared with us are my strongest motivation and the responsibility that comes with that is a constant challenge, but we would not be MINI if we could not have fun along the way.
To read other inspiring articles from the Automotive Sector Report, below is a link to Interbrand’s Best Global Brands website: