by Rebecca Cochran
So, I was exiting one of my favorite coffee shops after enjoying my Saturday morning cup. I tend to linger longer on Saturdays.
Just for the record, I drive a metallic blue Honda Accord.
As I was leaving the shop, I was reading an incoming text message on my smart phone. Since I was focused on my phone display, I wasn’t looking at my car. But, I knew the general direction in which I had parked.
As I approached my car and pressed the “unlock” button on my remote, I noticed that there was a half-used legal pad sitting on the back seat. My first thought was, “How did that get back there? I never use the back seat and, by the way, I don’t use legal pads (well, not in public, anyway).
Then came the a ha. This wasn’t my car. Mine was parked in the same overall position, just one row over.
My first instinct was to feel embarrassed. Who saw me? Did the owner of the “other” car think I was trying to steal something? Who was having a good laugh at my expense?
As I unlocked my car door, hopped in and sped away, I had a good laugh at my mistake.
Then, another a ha. This was my Saturday branding lesson. Thank you, Honda.
The “other” car I tried to enter was also a Honda. Not an Accord, but a Civic. Not metallic blue, but metallic gray, and probably the same model year as mine.
It dawned on me that this was branding at its best. Even though I wasn’t focused on the cars in the lot, out of a tiny little corner of my eye, subliminally even, I had shown my brand loyalty to Honda. I didn’t walk up to a Toyota or a Mazda or a Nissan and make this mistake. My eyes took me to a Honda, albeit not my Honda.
Was it the color similarity that fooled me? Was it that I sometimes park in that exact parking space (the one where the Civic was) many a Saturday morning? Was it the overall design of the car that I recognized? Did I unknowingly glance at the Honda logo and gravitate towards it?
It was probably a combination of all of these factors (and probably some I haven’t even thought of yet) that attracted me to the Civic. All in all, it was an interesting branding case study. This Accord is only the second Honda I’ve owned in my lifetime. Oh, but I did receive a telemarketing call from Honda this week. Scary, huh?
Pity I can’t time travel back to notice whether there were other Honda models in the same general area of the parking lot. Or notice if there were other cars the same color as mine. Or any of a myriad other factors which may have affected my choice of the gray metallic Civic.
I’d love to know what you make of my branding experience. Please comment and let me know what factors I’ve overlooked in my analysis.
P.S. Thank you, Honda, for the interesting study in branding and brand loyalty. And, by the way, I love my Accord. Keep up the good work.
This post was originally published in February, 2012