In nutrition they say you are what you eat. In auto marketing the corollary might well be you are what people say you are. That is what the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards are all about. The market research that is synthesized in the awards examines consumer perceptions about each automotive brand, and the award winners represent those brands that are faring the best in consumer perception in their individual categories.
The Brand Image Awards are presented to the top brands in 10 categories, based on detailed data from Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence's Brand Watch(tm) study. We do a lot more than convening a few focus groups to get this data, too. Brand Watch is an online study that taps into 12,000+ in-market new-vehicle shoppers who do their research on Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com. Coveted in the industry, the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards recognize automakers' outstanding achievements in creating and maintaining brand attributes and imagery that engenders enthusiasm among new-vehicle buyers.
What defines a good value? When it comes to new cars, we like to factor in affordability, reliability and good resale value - all of which remain Honda hallmarks. While competitors continue to push bolder designs and optimistic fuel economy figures, Honda stays the course with a strong focus on all-encompassing value.
In 2010 the term "Swagger Wagon" helped put the revamped Sienna minivan in the minds of millions. With a lineup rich in family-friendly models - Camry, Highlander and Sequoia to name but a few - Toyota is set to remain a staple in family car buying for years to come.
Who makes the toughest truck in America, according to America? That would be Ford. Again. For a third year running, Kelley Blue Book visitors have named Ford the Most Rugged Truck Brand. Not coincidentally, the Ford F-150 remains the best-selling vehicle in the country -- now for 29 years running. It's not hard to see why the F-150 is the people's choice -- pairing a go-anywhere and do-anything attitude with an enviable list of features, the F-150 is a proven work and play machine.
In 2010 we wrote that Ford was the midst of a product renaissance, and the last twelve months have proven that the company's revitalization isn't over yet. From a refreshed Edge, all-new Explorer, more muscular Mustang and the introduction of the Euro-flavored compact Fiesta, the Dearborn-based automaker has been busy redefining its look. And, as evident in Ford's increasing sales, the American public has proven that they like what they see.
Anyone who's driven a BMW will understand why the team from Munich won best Performance Brand for 2011. With powerful yet increasingly efficient engines, legendary ride and handling, and aggressive looks to match, BMW's vehicles are the yardstick by which innumerable carmakers measure their products.
Defining "cool" is tricky business, but BMW certainly has most of the boxes checked. Effortless performance? Avant-garde styling? A heritage worth remembering? Check, check and check. For some, cool is synonymous with desirable. If resale value and sales figures are any indication, BMW has that box checked, too.
In our opinion, the Cadillac CTS deserves at least 75 percent of the credit for securing this award. Yes, the big, bad Escalade is impossible to ignore and the SRX crossover is a nice interpretation of Cadillac's current design ethos, but the CTS Sedan is the car that put Cadillac design on the map (this time around, anyway). Recently expanded to include sporty wagon and positively outrageous coupe versions, the CTS lineup features design that's strong enough to lift an entire brand.
The Cadillac lineup is far bolder and sportier than it was just a decade ago, but the Cadillac-comfort connection remains steadfast in the minds of car buyers. And even if its cars aren't as soft and squishy as they were the first 100 years - Cadillac's best-selling CTS is a bona-fide sports sedan -- rich materials, fancy features and world-class interior design deliver 21st-century comfort.
One of three wins for the brand this year, Cadillac's interior design award is a complement to its award for comfort. Rich in wood and leather, with classic details like double French stitching and modern touches like excellent LCD graphics, Cadillac interiors deliver a balance of comfort, quality and performance that's in perfect harmony with the brand as a whole.
Kelley Blue Book visitors have named Mercedes-Benz the Best Prestige Brand four years in a row, and the office odds-makers are bullish on five. There's just something about the three-pointed star and the rich history of sophistication behind it that no competing automaker can touch right now.