Just what is a brand, anyway? In today's auto world, it doesn't have to be a product, a specific make of car or truck. It can be a place (or places) of business where customers feel they will be treated fairly and courteously.
For example, mention Earnhardt's in Arizona, and the listener visualizes Tex Earnhardt, a flamboyant auto dealer whose slogan, 'No Bull,' is known as widely as his name. He has nine franchises at six locations.
Kent Stevinson, with six stores in Colorado, stresses service to the customer - not just back shop service but free Saturday car washes, 24-hour assistance, new-owner clinics and family parties. The brand? Stevinson.
Fred Beans has his home phone number and name displayed at all his dealerships. 'I want people to come to our buildings to feel comfortable but not know why,' he says. 'That name and number on the sign say there is someone behind the brand, a real person.'
Beans owns 12 dealerships in Pennsylvania and is co-owner of eight others.
Jim Nalley was a Chevrolet dealer in Atlanta. After he bought his second, third and fourth stores, people still associated Nalley with only Chevrolet. So the company began promoting the Nalley name as an umbrella for all its marques.
Carl Sewell Jr., who heads 10 dealerships handling eight makes of cars and trucks in Texas and Louisiana, became a brand without realizing it. General Motors' Ron Zarrella explained the brand concept, and Sewell says: 'As I began to understand that brand encompasses your reputation and the impression that you've created in the customer's mind, I realized that we had been working diligently to accomplish that for many years without knowing what to call it.'