Palmer says better brand opinion will translate into higher prices and market share.
He wouldn't say how much Nissan spends on marketing. Spending has increased, he says, but the budget has remained steady as a percentage of revenue.
What Nissan has done is focus its spending better. Gone are cluttered ads driving customers to a deal. In is a refined, unified look under the tag line "Innovation that Excites."
"The first good point is that marketing actions are already catching up with what was already a reasonable good set of products," Palmer said.
On some fronts, his brands are gaining ground. By other measures, there is plenty of work to do.
In incentives, the Nissan brand managed to hold the line last year, keeping its average spending flat at $2,356 per vehicle, despite an 8 percent rise in industrywide average spending to $2,402 per vehicle, according to Edmunds.com. Infiniti, however, doled out a lot more incentives, with its average per-vehicle incentive spending soaring 46 percent to $5,352.
Even with the spiffs, Infiniti's 2013 sales slipped 3 percent in a market that rose 8 percent. Nissan brand's sales, however, rose 11 percent.
Or consider transaction prices, a measure of how much consumers are willing to pay for a brand's products.
In 2013, Infiniti's average transaction price rose 2 percent from a year earlier to $47,142, according to Edmunds.com. The Nissan brand's average transaction price was basically unchanged at $26,139 last year. But both brands trailed the overall industry, which had a 3 percent increase in average transaction price to $31,773.
The automaker wants both measures to improve. But Palmer cautions not to expect overnight results.
"If you work on this, it's not going to give you quick returns because there is an inertia effect," Palmer said. "Overall opinion has a time lag of at least six months, if not longer."