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Discussion Starter #1
Hi!

I´m a big Saab fan aswell as student at Stockholm University in Sweden. This semester I’m writing a masters thesis on the brand Saab. Since Saab is almost a mainstream car here in Sweden I’m interested in getting some opinions from people in other countries. Hopefully we could get some kind of discussion going on this subject. I have written some question that I would be glad to hear your opinion on.

1. What would you consider to be the main characteristics of Saabs brand?



2. How clear is Saabs image?



3. Saabs image is to be different, but are they in your opinion different?



In what way?/ how come?



3. Is there a problem for Saab when they are forced to sell re-badged or shared platform models?



4. Strong brands often have a genuine story, how well are Saabs story communicated to the customers in your country?



5. How would you like to improve Saab?

 

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1. What would you consider to be the main characteristics of Saabs brand?

Safety and Simplicity, packaged in style. In other words, there's no bland space in saabs like there is in cars like hondas, and theres the same amount of functionality as say a lexus, but not as cluttered. they place everything in the easiest spot for you to get at it.


2. How clear is Saabs image?

I'd say about 80% clear. I understand that they're marketing themselves as being different from every other car around...but it seems a bit unclear in what ways they are doing that. To me, if you say you're different (state of independence), then give me some reason how.

3. Saabs image is to be different, but are they in your opinion different?

This flows off my answer to question 2. They market themselves as different, and I do believe they are, but in subtle ways that need to be pointed out to those who've never owned a saab.

In what way?/ how come?

To me, the simplicity makes every difference. There are very few cars that are so easy to use, while maintaining solid styling. You see the saab from the outside, and it looks fast, sporty, and complex. You sit in the drivers seat, and everything is within reach, exactly where you would expect it to be. (sorry if this is the same thing I said in question 1).

3. Is there a problem for Saab when they are forced to sell re-badged or shared platform models?

There's no problem with saab. But GM is suffering, and they own saab. They noticed that saab does not cover every market. Yea, they have a sedan, a convertible, and 3 trim levels for them...but what about AWD? what about SUVS, these are the crave right now here in America. Noticing that they fell behind the market, and GM noticing that saab had the space to add more models, they stole Subarus WRX design for the 9-2x, and the trail blazers design for the 9-7x. There's nothing wrong with these cars, it's just that you won't find many saab loyalists buying them...They will however, attract new customers, which inevitably is GM's master plan.


4. Strong brands often have a genuine story, how well are Saabs story communicated to the customers in your country?

Not sure what you mean by a "story," but I'm not sure Saabs story is communicated too well, at least from what i've seen/heard.



5. How would you like to improve Saab?
I think when they make the 9-3 in an AWD model, they will be flying high. Also, make the 9-2x as a saab, instead of a rebandaged WRX. It's a sleek looking car, but i can get the same thing for 5 grand less, why would i buy this one. I'd also like to see a difference between the ARC and AERO models, on top of just the styling (which i HEAR they're doing next model year, but not confirmed).

Hope this helps. I drive an '05 9-3 linear in case that matters.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks DMBeer41!


What I meant with "story" is ´Saabs history. The heritage from aeroplane manufacturing, their rally history, turbo innovators and so on. If you ask a Saab official (at least in Sweden) they claim this to be extremely important for their brand.
 

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Ah, alright. Well, i don't think it's as important around here, at least from what i've seen. If one was really researching cars, I'd say that it would show their dedication to not only making the best and most reliable car out there, but also that they are innovators, and you can expect only top notch quality from them.

But again, From what i've seen and heard, it doesn't seem as important over here as it does overseas (from the US standpoint) :)
 

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Okay Johan 9-5, I'll give it a shot. :)

1. What would you consider to be the main characteristics of Saabs brand?
Safe, strong, practical, in a way special and sometimes a bit odd, a car for nonconformists. If you look at the history (92 up to 99) Saab isn't really a very luxery/premium brand. A Saab is designed and engineer from a different point of view. From an aircraft engineer point of view. That's what makes the brand special (premium).

2. How clear is Saabs image?
Saab markets themself as being different, safe with a Swedish feeling. But as DMBeer 41 said it's difficult to see in what way Saab is different. In general people think Saabs are strong, safe, luxery, expensive and different (esspecially the older models).

3. Saabs image is to be different, but are they in your opinion different?
They should be, but it's difficult for me to see in what way they are now. I imagine if you re-bagde the 9-3SS to Audi or Ford, people would belief it's an A4 or Mondeo. And that shouldn't be possible. Still I do belief Saab is still a bit different. The question is, is this bit enough to make it a Saab... Maybe it's too subtle.
As said the older models (up to the 900) are designed and engineered by people with, at least, very very strong connections with aircraft design/engineering. It looks like the older models are made from an aircraft point of view. That is what makes Saab Saab to me. The (aircraft) point of view is making all the difference.
The newer models are designed by car people, with car people point of view. The only difference is the aircraft history. But that's history..
At the moment the Saab imagine is turning into a re-badged Opel. Maybe this is what GM means with different....

3. Is there a problem for Saab when they are forced to sell re-badged or shared platform models?
As said before, Saab are made from an 'aircraft' standpoint, which is the big difference from all other manufacturers. That 'thinking' makes the car: that thinking makes the dash, not the dash makes the thinking; that thinking makes the floor starter switch, not the floor starter switch the thinking; that thinking makes all the other details, not the other way arround.
So yes, re-badging is a problem! Beef up the chassis, changing some plates, lamps and moving the starter switch to the floor doesn't make the car a Saab. The car is still designed by car people from a car people standpoint. The car already has a soul, the only thing you change is the make-up. I think in the end buyers find out, the car isn't any different except the price tag.
Platform sharing, I think, is okay. Don't see many problems there. As long as it is flexible enough to make a Saab out of it with a Saab soul.

4. Strong brands often have a genuine story, how well are Saabs story communicated to the customers in your country?
The heritage is not communicated very well. The communication is basically all about (life) style. I think the heritage of Saab is really strong. And if the officials say it is so important, I really don't understand why they don't do anything with it. Look at Subaru, the made a strong rally weapon out of the impreza, and off they went. I like what Volkswagen does with the Golf. Everytime there is a new generation, they make pictures with all the generations together. I like that.

5. How would you like to improve Saab?
Saab should remain a genuine Swedish manufacturer, so the cars should be designed in Sweden and their main production plant should be in Sweden. This might not be important for Americans, but for Europeans it is!
To my opinion Saab can make basically every car type, mid size, big size car, SUV, MPV. Why not! But when they do that, they have to make them the Saab way.
If I was Saab I would hire some aircraft designers and engineers to get the distinctive 'aircraft manufacturer is making cars point of view' back.
Keep on being innovative in engineering, safety, engines.
Don't aim for the premium market, but a little lower. Just between Ford/VW/Opel/etc. on one side and MB/BMW/Audi on the other. Just like hte position of Volvo is now. With the price tag in between.
I think people are more individualistic nowadays, people want to distinguish themselves from others. I think Saab still have the name to be distinctive, and in the past they were more distinctive than they are now (at that time maybe bit too much). Still some people say: "Do you have a Saab? Wow, cool."
But you have to give buyers a genuin reason why the car is distinctive.
I think people will buy an acceptable priced car with such a special feel and look that it seems premium (but without the price tag).
Saab has to share as much components as they can to get the price down without loosing that 'aircraft manuafcturer that makes cars' thing as they were in the past.

A long story, I hope it's usefull.

Blacky
 

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1. What would you consider to be the main characteristics of Saabs brand?

Quality engineering, Scandinavian efficiency of design, Swedish reputation for safety, aeronautical heritage, environmentally responsible long before it became fashionable, practical but sporty, individual and idiosyncratic but with good reason.


2. How clear is Saabs image?

Getting murkier. I think the characteristics that Saab have traditionally stood for are still there in every car in the line up with the exception of the aberrations known as the 9-2 and the 9-7. With them I think they've shot themselves in the foot.


3. Saabs image is to be different, but are they in your opinion different?

I think they've become much more closely allied with the mainstream in recent years, but have endeavoured to retained the 'different' ideas that worked and dispensed with the ones that didn't, which is basically progress through evolution.

In what way?/ how come?

Staying loyal to the idea of a line of sporty but practical vehicles that produced good performance through the efficiency of turbocharging. Trying to keep the tradition of a cabin layout where everything was exactly where the driver wanted it to be; not where things looked nice but where they felt right.

4. Is there a problem for Saab when they are forced to sell re-badged or shared platform models?

I don't see a problem with sharing a platform, in that historically a small, high-quality and specialist manufacturer like Saab was going to have to use what it could - hence we have a Triumph engine in the C900, a Vauxhall/Opel chassis in the GM900 and 9-3, the Fiat/Lancia blend of the 9000... I don't think the cars are any the worse for it. Re-badging is another matter, chiefly because it essentially dilutes the strengths of any brand. The typical Saab buyer doesn't want a Subaru and vice versa, for as long as the original version is still available. Of course some buyers will be curious, some will think that a hybrid answers all their needs, but they are almost inevitably going to be in a minority.


5. Strong brands often have a genuine history. How well is Saab's history communicated to the customers in your country?

In the past, very well. Many of us in the UK remember seeing Saabs winning rallys, and the advert campaigns of the 1980s drew heavily on the aeronautical history - the "Nothing on earth comes close" campaign, or "My other Saab's a car". Environmental responsibility started to be plugged more in the early 1990s, at a time when people were becoming increasingly aware of it. Today it appears to me that the adverts are basically targeting yuppies, and insinuating that the car is different by virtue of having a Saab badge. I'm not sure that's enough any more.


6. How would you like to improve Saab?

Bin those two abominations of the faux-Subaru and that repulsive behemoth of an SUV before they destroy the brand completely, and start looking at other cars in the GM line-up that could benefit Saab. Aim for what the global market will want in a year or two, not what Americans think they want now. I think it's OK to bend the rules a bit - not all Saabs have to be turbocharged, or have to be 2 litres, but don't compromise the original standards. Having said that, a new Sonett would be fun, and a wider range of turbocharged diesels would be a good move.
 

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One thing I find really interesting - Blacky Turbo's post was not there when I was typing mine. Looking at them together I'm struck by the similarity of the answers we give.
 

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1.
Brand's image or car or both?
-quality
-safety
-performance
-aerodynamics
-hitech
-innovation
-rational
-mathematically better than others

2.

There are two images, one is what Saab tries to be and other is what different people think about it.
For masses, it's not clear at all, or totally unknown, or distorted.

Biggest bias in the USA is that if there is two doors and other car company uses left then Saab goes right, not because it would be better but because Saab wants to be different. This is very badly wrong, but belief is so strong that even Saab's marketing has to play with it.

Let's make it very clear: Saab makes things different because they want to make it better.

3.
Saab's purpose based philosophy is radically different than others.
It's a different matter can they always do things so different as they would have wanted because of money.

4.(your 3. number two)

-image takes damage
-cars are not up to Saab norm

Sharing platform is very ok if platform is how Saab wanted it.

5.
Very little advertising here, they dont use history/heritage. In fact history is a burden to Saab here.

6.
-Bigger budget.
-Design lead in many areas inside of GM
-fix marketing to more aggressive facts based
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys!

The essence of brand management is the brand promise, the core values. Then you need to deliver the brand promise. The way the auto industry looks today every brand is forced to go towards bigger owners, more shared parts and so on. So if you like Saab say you are different and innovative you need to deliver something different and innovative. Here I find a problem....
As some of you said, the old 9000 had shared plattform but it certainly had a Saab spirit. So what you consider not to be a real Saab is I guess a matter of personal opinion.
GM don´t seem to really understand what the Saab brand stands for and how to develop it in the right way.

Johan
 
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