Summary & Conclusion

Having conducted brand audit of Renault and Volkswagen, we’ve gather substantial amount of information. The best way to structure that information with regards to brand auditing is thoroughly building Kevin Keller’s CBBE pyramid for both brands. Below is the the final breakdown of the pyramid with highlights of essential notions in each type of brand attribute:

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Renault has a strong degree of brand awareness. Although it is not one of the top brands that pop-up, when talking about cars in general. However, awareness becomes stronger within specific categories of cars. Company has presence in several car categories starting from entry-level vehicles and up to upper middle class, also having very strong presence in electric vehicles sector.
There are two categories, where Renault is out of reach for most competitors or car manufacturers: entry-level vehicles and electric cars. The company enjoys a dominating position of the market in both categories, hence, very strong awareness within those sectors and extended breadth of awareness.
Volkswagen has very strong brand awareness. It tends to be one of the first brands to be associated with automotive sector. Although the general consumer is unaware that the brand portfolio includes brands like Skoda , Bugatti,and Lamborghini, the company ranks very high in the mind of consumers thanks to the cognitive associations prompted by brand.
However, there is an interesting trend in volkswagen’s brand awareness dynamics — it tends to go upwards in segment associations: VW is increasingly viewed as expensive car, rather than “Volk’s”. It’s a vector company took in late 90s and still continues to follow.
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Renault has pretty high manufacturing standards. In fact , it is the reason why they conquered entry-level segment — they managed to maintain quality in spite of drastic cost-cutting measures. Their gasoline engines are one of the most durable on the market, although, occasional flaws still happen. These
“occasional flaws”  setback the company to it’s 1990s reputation. An era when the company products suffered chronic malfunctions on the average.
Volkswagen managed to establish one of the most effective cross-platform systems in the world. You can find the same components in Skoda, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche. It means that luxury-segment quality standards are applied to those components, which contributes to overall quality of vehicles throughout all classes.
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Renault has more passionate image. Throughout it’s advertisement campaign, the central focus of them were emotions, French style and passion. Thus Renault targets more emotional consumers.
Volkswagen tends to build it’s marketing campaigns around technical features of vehicles. Even the slogan of company states so: Das Auto — The Car. So, VW targets those consumers that appreciate mostly technology, precision and quality.
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Renault vehicles are appreciated for their design, aesthetics and utility. However, quality still appears to be a weak point here. Despite integrating quality logo to Renault’s own logo, this attribute fails to change. Recently, Renault tried a new strategy for quality reinforcement — they are focusing on their success in car racing, hoping to translate that into inevitable consequence results of high quality.
Volkswagen vehicles are prided for their quality. Recently VW discovered that they have problems with their vision of a car and that of a consumer. To put it in another way, they started to have problems with aesthetics, utility and design aspects of their vehicles. However, problem was resolved by implementing more consumer-based approach in designing new vehicles.
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Throughout various marketing incentives and supporting events, Renault products tend to provoke mostly Fun feelings and Excitement. Motorsports, crazy advertising campaigns all contribute to it. The EV products of the company obviously dramatically contribute to Social Approval kind of feelings. Electric vehicles became the symbols of fight against pollution (which it is not the case  — they merely push pollution farther away from cities, but that’s OK), which is one of the main pillars of modern social responsibility.
Recently probe new kind of feeling association — through luxury
Volkswagen products are strongly associated with such feelings as security and self Respect. Quality and upper-mid price targeting significantly contribute to those feelings. But certain products of Volkswagen, especially those deep in middle-class segment tend to be associated with Fun. Various ads for Polo, Golf and Up are built around that feeling.
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Strong competition in automotive industry prevents general cases of behavioural Loyalty, as purchases happen rarely and each time product is challenged by rivals. However, certain electric models of Renault, like Traffic z.e. stay mostly unchallenged and recurring purchases occur within fleet sales.
Attitudinal: According to our surveys Renault is perceived much like commodity rather than something greater. It failed to become a Love mark. However, certain sub-brands of Renault has developed thriving communities around them. EVs and sport cars seem to be somewhat different from how the brand is perceived in general. They have loyal consumers, that do not want to change the brand because the successfully blinded together.
Volkswagen mostly faces the same issues as Renault. It’s hard to hook consumers for long. However, being positioned higher in budget segmentation, volkswagen cars are more than just commodity. Some owners of certain models, such as Golf seem to be loyal to the brand and invest in updated versions and facelifts of the same model from year to year. In the sports division of Volkswagen situation is much the same, as in Renault. Sport models of company has become a centre of gravity for various communities of owners.
But Volkswagen has one more thing, that adds significantly to it’s perception as a Lovemark; generating resonance — powerful heritage of models, that had very strong cultural impact on various societies throughout the world.
 All in all, both brands are very strong in terms of awareness and have incredible potential.
Volkswagen has serious problems with positioning and sometimes confuses consumers with regards to what segment certain subtends occupy. The second serious problem for Volkswagen is absence in entry-level market.
Renault has problems in establishing reputation of quality brand and is often perceived as producer of commodities. This may be backfired expansive strategy on entry-level market. But company has serious potential in future. It has successfully invested in electric vehicles and firmly established itself as producer of such goods. Having excessively strong positions on this market, Renault only has to keep pace.

Brand Portfolio Analysis

In order to analyse brand portfolio of Renault and Volkswagen, all the brands should be brought to some structure. Focusing attention on consumer vehicles, it’s possible to apply basic price differentiation to brand portfolio. In the graphic below the whole scope of brands of respective companies is differentiated by price with remarks on geographical and behavioural/demographic focus of certain brands.

Renault & VolksWagen Portfolio structure in consumer vehicles

Renault & VolksWagen Portfolio structure in consumer vehicles

Analysing the data, we  may see that Renault-Nissan has well-established it’s brands in broad scope of markets. Most importantly, the alliance has strong presence in entry-level market, which is characterised by high volume and high growth. That secures company’s development in near future in spite of all possible problems with other brands. It has 3 entry-level brands which cover all major developing markets with Dacia being the most important one. In the mid-range market, alliance is represented by it’s two core brands — Renault and Nissan. In order to gain growth at expense of competitors, rather than it’s own fellow brands, Renault and Nissan focus marketing efforts on different car segments, when presented on the same market, e.g. in Europe, Renault offers mostly sedans and coupes, while Nissan focuses on 4×4 and various kinds of SUVs. The Alliance has two brands in premium segment, which are presented simultaneously only on one market ‚ South Korea, where they share different car segments. In luxury&Sports segment company has only two car models: Renault Alpine and Nissan Gt-R.

     On the other hand, Volkswagen group has overwhelmingly strong presence in luxury and sports segment, covering all possible niches with it’s 4 luxury brands: Porsche, Bentley, Bugatti and Lamborghini. In premium segment, Volkswagen is traditionally presented with it’s Audi sub-brand. However, the core volkswagen brand is constantly moving upward, stepping on toes of Audi. But that’s a mid-range segment, where company has real mess. SEAT, being subject of losses, constantly fails to gain new markets. It’s desperately set to conquer European youth markets, but is still the least popular brand in volkswagen’s portfolio. On the other hand, Skoda, which was intended to become volkswagen’s entry-level brand, failed to fulfil this purpose so as well. The brand appeared to deliver exceptional quality and service, which justified incredible upward shift from entry-level reaching upper mid-range, the domain of volkswagen itself. However, Volkswagen managed to fire Skoda’s CEO and re-set it’s development a bit. The fact is, Skoda’s expansion was achieved at expense of other Volkswagen group brands, which means that it literally caused more harm than good. Now the group has to face the fact, that it has no presence in, most juicy in terms of volume, entry-level segment, and has to deal with cannibalisation of it’s brands in mid-range and upper mid-range segments.
The following graphic helps visualise degree of presence of each group in respective car-segments. Models range is centred on mid-range vehicles.

Annual reports: [Renault];[Nissan];[Audi];[Porsche];[Skoda];[Seat]

The anatomy of brand positioning model

In order to compare the communication plan of the two companies, we are going to examine the anatomy of brand positioning of both companies. The brand positioning is composed of six elements:

  • Brand heritage
  • Brand domain
  • Brand values
  • Brand assets
  • Brand personality
  • Brand reflection

124466AD-0A34-4C9F-BD58-C13EED804ABE Source :




Brand domain Popular car Popular car
Brand heritage “4 chevaux”MotorsportFusion with Nissan « Type 1 »DesignBeetle
Brand values Closeness with the clientSecuritySustainable mobility Customer focusTop performance Responsibility and sustainability
Brand assets DiamondRelation with motorsportsSloganAdvertising Design“Das auto”
Brand personality MotorsportsPartnerships Iconic brand imageThe Beetle
Brand reflection Good and secure French car Secure – Cool – Fun – Hype


Brand domain

Renault  in one of the main players in the automobile world market.  Recently Renault-Nissan bought Samsung Motors and Dacia to develop its internationalisation strategy and certainly to expand its market. The acquisition of Samsung motors is strategic. In fact, Renault has set their sight on building  a vast and modern state of the art manufacturing facility in Indonesia. This future facility will be producing about 240 000 cars per year. By this strategic plan, Renault and Nissan will have the opportunity to produce close to targeted Asian Market. Moreover, by acquiring Dacia, Renault was able to target a new market segment : base range and budget cars. It proved to be a successful step taken by the manufacturer due to the fact that Dacia reached a new sales record in 2013 (404 000 units).

Brand heritage

In 1898, Louis Renault and his brothers founded the Renault society. But at the beginning, Renault was just focusing on sports car. In fact, the society became famous thanks to the impressive results obtained in car racing competition. By 1905, Renault began to expand their market and started to produce vehicles targeting the general population. During the WWI, Renault created trucks, stretchers, ambulances, shells or tanks. Some of their models became world famous like the 4cv, la Dauphine, Renault 25 and nowadays with the Renault Espace, Megane, and Laguna. A very important part of Renault history was  the merging event that occurred in 1999 with the Japanese car manufacturing Nissan Motors. The merger proved to be a very successful endeavor, unlike the failed merger attempt with the Swedish car giant, Volvo back in 1993. Nevertheless, these events indicated the shifting strategy that Renault was pursuing in order to gain internationalization of the brand and expansion into the emerging markets. Further reading can be found in dedicated post.

Brand values

Closeness with the client: One of Renault main differentiation strategy consisted in revolutionizing client relationships in a more efficient manner. According to Mr Plantegenest, commercial director of Renault, the objective for 2016 is to be the leader regarding customer relations. As he mentioned, Renault is among the top 5 car manufacturers and in some countries, is already the leader. By trying to meet and exceed customers expectations, the company is regaining lost terrain and it is constantly seeking new ways to do it more efficiently. Security: Renault relied greatly in innovation and development of  advanced technologies for accident prevention. For example, Renault created ‘driver assistance’, a concept to anticipate inherited risks. The four objectives are: Prevent, correct, protect the occupants and protect children. These objectives are essential for Renault and it weights considerably in every decision that the company takes regarding the new technologies developed by the company. Sustainable mobility: Renault also was behind the whole concept known as ”Eco-conduite” Here, fuel efficiency became primordial due to the changing behaviors of the drivers. The main goal was to consume less fuel from previous years.

Brand assets

Diamond: the logo is very important in the car market. The story of Renault logo “the Diamond” is very specific. In fact, for the creation of the “40 chevaux” the installation of the alarm (the circular horn) was a huge problem for the manufacturers. This installation required a gap in car body. For the manufacturer this gap was not a good idea. And they find the solution. They were wearing a huge diamond of 25 cm high to hide the hole in the car body. And this diamond becomes the symbol of Renault. The diamond stay since 1925. Nowadays, the diamond is implemented in 3D. renault-logo Motorsports: The motor sport racing is closely associated with Renault history. A strong legacy and tradition were spearheaded by the company, thanks to their success in the world of car races. And nowadays, Renault have their own formula 1 racing team  (Lotus-Renault). They also supply engines(power units) to 3 more teams. Slogan: “Drive the Change”. Over the years and with the continuous improvement of the brand, slogan also changed to keep up with the latest models innovation. But now this new slogan shows the importance of the new values of the manufacturer.

  • Sustainable mobility
  • Innovation

In fact, Renault wants to be part of the new edge of Electric car. (Renault project Z.E.)

Advertising: The car manufacturer uses the same character on all TV commercial for the last 3 years( Nicolas Carpentier). He is not a world famous celebrity or a world leader, but it’s perfectly what Renault targets. Nicolas Carpentier is the perfect “normal guy”, he can be a father or a young worker. With this idea in mind o use only this character we know exactly that if we see this actor on a TV commercial it’s a Renaut add.

Brand personality

Motorsports: As previously mentioned, Renault history is closely associated with the motorsport world. Events like Renault 8 Gordini, the Alpine, and the creation of the Renault sport series, it becomes one of the most wealthy and influential car manufacturers, currently ranking number 4 worldwide. All these successful events drove the brand into the world stage where it showcase their expertise and efficiency due to the nature of these challenges where competition is very intense.  Partnership: Renault was a part of huge and famous events. For 27 years, Renault was the official partner of the “Festival de Cannes”. This event is very famous and has a good impact on the image of Renault. (Luxury, Beauty, Charm…)

Brand reflection

Renault have the image of a “Good and secure French car”. No one will describe the car as a luxurious car. It’s a car not expensive that can be convenient for all the family. For instance, the Renault CLIO is one of the most esteemed cars by French people according to a recent survey did by the CCFA (comité des constructeur français d’automobile).


Brand domain

Volskwagen is implemented since 1930’s in the automotive market for middle class. Over time, the Volkswagen Group acquired other brands such as Audi, Seat and Skoda in order to position itself in every segment. In addition, they also diversify on the markets of trucks and motorcycles.

Brand heritage

Quality and authenticity are becoming key selling points in communication. In hard times, people are looking for comfort from the past. That is why in 2008, in an effort to get back to their German roots, Volkswagen created a talking Beetle, named “Max”, to interview German celebrities (Heidi Klum, David Hasseloff..) and deliver bad jokes with a fake German accent. The campaign’s weak attempt to link back to the birthplace of their brand via stereotypes attracted lots of negative comments and one of the biggest sales drops in recent years. VW’s Beetle is the best example of embracing their brand heritage. They took the original car concept and modernized the design to include conveniences and amenities that the buying public would demand. The brand heritage instilled in the Beetle is more than just names or symbols; they represent a legend or storyline that consumers can follow. Further reading in dedicated post.

Brand values

Customer focus: The brand wants to satisfy every segment of the population Top performance: Innovation for everyone is their trademark. In 2013, Volkswagen has become the most innovative company in the world according to the latest ranking of Booz & Company. The brand spent $ 11.4 billion in 2013 to research and development. Responsibility and sustainability: The Group pays real attention to the environment in the area of ​​recycling and eco-consumption

Brand assets

Logo: Volkswagen or VW was founded in 1938 by order of Adolf Hitler in Stuttgart. In 1938, the first car to emerge was “Ladybug” by Ferdinand Porsche’s Volkswagen logo represents the V Volks (the people) and W Wagen (car) in a circle. Originally a cogwheel surrounded the circle. It disappeared after the second World War. FDC79061-822D-43C8-A15F-59C955ECF017 Slogan: Volkswagen currently distributes advertising with two different slogans:

  • “Das auto”: a reminder of the German origins of the brand. Indeed, everything that comes across the Rhine has de facto a positive connotation of quality and know-how.
  • “Le plus dur, c’est de choisir”: which perfectly corresponds with the brand positioning. Indeed, with this slogan, the brand claims all choices for every consumer.

Brand personality

Volkswagen is a globally recognised brand that is known by everybody thanks to its truly iconic brand image. In recent years, Volkswagen tops its rankings as one of the 20 best brands in the world. This shows that the Volkswagen brand is not only branded, but also highly wanted by the global market as well! Through effective brand differentiation, Volkswagen has created a positive brand image and likeability for its brand because people just love its brand’s distinctive personality. Furthermore, Volkswagen further strengthens its positive brand image by being a brand that is able to reach out to a wide scale of consumers ranging from car enthusiasts, corporate executives and family people. By launching different categories for its car models, Volkswagen is able to fulfil each and every of its customers’ needs. The Beetle is the part of brand personality of the brand. Indeed, created in1960s, it has been recently reincarnated forty years later. Today, customers celebrate the 1960s spirit symbolized by the flower vase on the dashboard.

Blog 3Brand reflection

After the purchase of Volkswagen drivers feel completely safe in a car on top of innovation. Indeed, the German automaker Volkswagen this year became the number one safety in its vehicles, award given by the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The hot ad agency Crispin Porter Bogusky created the new advertising last year for Volkswagen. Now there was a brand that had lost its luster and consumer loyalty. The brand reflection of owning a VW had become neutral at best, with many potential car buyers believing that the iconic German brand now was boring and stodgy. The declining sales of Volkswagen’s reflected this declining brand reflection. The agency came up with several edgy campaigns that, like them or not, injected some cool and fun back in the Volkswagen brand. Now owning a Volkswagen said you were hip and even kind of cutting edge about cars. The Volkswagen brand reflection was positive again, and sales rose (and are still rising). Of course, this coincided with Volkswagen also improving its product.


edited by Roman Ayala