Wednesday, February 6, 2013

AutoNation Moves to One Brand

AutoNation announced the rollout of the AutoNation brand across its network of auto dealerships this week. The move to switch the local, family sounding dealership names (e.g., Maroone Automotive Group in South Florida) to a national brand is a bold move and a first in auto retail on a large scale. We're talking about 264 new-vehicle franchises, selling 32 brands across 15 states!

This makes sense to reap the benefits of economies of scale in marketing. In digital, it should elevate the search equity.

I think this is a good brand move by AutoNation. There are certainly concerns about migrating quickly from its current state. And perhaps a more deliberate endorsed brand strategy for a few years could have eased some of these concerns. So, imagine, say, Honda of Dulles, Part of AutoNation, where "Part of AutoNation" could be visually treated like a tagline or a smaller moniker below the Honda of Dulles brand name. Then, at some point, Honda of Dulles goes away and AutoNation is the one and only master brand.

It is also interesting to note the luxury dealerships will keep their local names, such as Mercedes-Benz of Fort Lauderdale. This could be rationalized that luxury car sales is a relationships-based business and a single AutoNation brand feels more cookie-cutter and value-oriented for the McDonald's population. So, why take the risk at this time and let's watch how the AutoNation rollout plays out in the marketplace first.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds. Macy's made a similar move a few years ago and it seems to have paid off!


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