Sunday, July 6, 2014

Branding: BMW and BMW’s "i" Brand

One of the best car manufactures in the world has recently set the bar for other brands in the automotive industry with their newest and latest technology, bringing the i-brand (plug-in electric) into production.

BMW i3 i8
BMW i3(left) and i8(right)

The BMW i is a sub-brand of BMW founded in 2011 to design and manufacture plug-in electric vehicles.  The company's initial plans call for the release of two vehicles; the i3 all-electric car and the i8 plug-in hybrid. Concept versions of both these vehicles were shown at the 2009 Frankfurt Motor Show. Series production of the BMW i3 destined for retail customers began in September 2013, and the European market launch took place in November 2013 with the first retail deliveries in Germany.[1]

Electric Car BMW i3 Plugin
BMW i3 in Orlando, Florida

The BMW i3 is in production and has been seen driving on the roads, even in Orlando. The BMW i8 has been released in Germany this last month with plans for the US market soon.

I wrote this post because I recently attended an electric car driving event called Electric Car Guest Drive- West Coast Tour (click this text for my post on the event) hosted by Electric Car Insider Magazine and EV Quorum Car Club.  Publisher and Editor, Christopher Alan, had invited me to drive EV’s all day on Mother’s Day since I told him that I was traveling out there the same week.  The event went really well and I learned so much.  After helping clean up the event, Chris invites me to dinner with a few team members in Newport Beach to keep the conversations going
At dinner, I ask Chris and the rest of the group all sorts of questions regarding EV’s, chargers, the magazine, and car brands manufacturing electric, plug-in, and hybrid cars; especially BMW’s i brand.

“So what about BMW and their i band?”

Chris states, “Marketing and Funding!”
“If BMW made their electric cars under the standard brand, [BMW] it would jeopardize the brands marketing and funding.  It would take so much effort from the standard petrol and diesel line-ups to effectively bring the electric cars to market, that the brand would suffer as a whole.  Creating and establishing an “electric brand” would bring in its own funding and a strong focus (which is needed when starting new) for an effective marketing program.”

Because marketing is not a service, it’s a part of business.

Chris had such great insight to my question about the i brand that I even asked my question to the Automotive News Marketing Seminar’s panel in Los Angeles which Jason Stein, editor and publisher of Automotive News, had chosen to ask.
Marketing Seminar Los Angeles
Automotive New Marketing Seminar, Los Angeles
Unfortunately, the panel, which some had electric and hybrid models in their line-ups, could not describe it like Chris had done so well.  Their answers were more of a, “that’s a hard question for us so here is what I can say.” No one said that, but that is what I heard.

Branding, how BMW does in my opinion, is the way you do business. When adding a whole new segment to your business, but still following the brands focus and goals, creating its own marketing professionals and PR program to properly educate and distribute hype….that’s top notch right there, I don’t care who you are.

Keep doing what you are doing BMW and i brand.