Back in the good old days, a brand was a physical product: Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota. But over the years, the concept has broadened to include services and service providers. And auto dealers have been quick to take advantage of the expanded concept and emphasis on brand image.
If an area has a dozen Dodge dealers, the individual merchant must promote his or her store even more than the maker's line of cars and trucks. After all, you can buy a Dodge at 11 other places.
Halterman's Auto Ranch decided to back off from its image. It had a Western theme and its logo was a Western branding iron - all that in the not-quite Old West town of East Stroudsburg, Pa. Now, the firm promotes 'Halterman's.'
J. Theodore Linhart owned several dealerships under a variety of names in the Richmond, Va., area. He decided to consolidate his group and he picked the name of a Chevy deal that had been in the family since 1955: Dominion. An apt choice. The 'Old Dominion' is a treasured Virginia nickname.
Sometimes, a distinctive feature becomes a part of the dealership image.
'Open until midnight' is a watchword of Pulliam Ford in Columbia, S.C.
In Syracuse, N.Y. (population 164,000), there are five Ford dealerships in the city and 15 in a 30-mile radius. Backus Ford sets itself apart by promoting its parts and service capability.
Gerry Lane handles several General Motors makes in Baton Rouge, La. He has been in business 33 years, and his name is his brand.