Thursday, February 7, 2008

Great Design - part 2

Yesterday’s post finished with a question… and asking you to remember it is almost as bad as the Click and Clack Weekly Puzzla’. So here it is again: “if reliability is lost in the noise [of little differences here and there], and design differentiation is merely a prerequisite to being noticed, what is left to distinguish brands?”

The answer to this puzzler is to look outside the box, literally. If we are looking for differentiation only within the vehicle, we are missing an enormous part of the customer experience. Great design is not only to be found in the model line, but also in the company and the experience itself.

Take for example the Penske Auto Group AutoMall in Turnersville, New Jersey. This is dealer whose hallmark is diversity, not only within a make of car, but also in the diversity of makes offered under one dealership roof (Acura, Hummer, BMW, Cadillac, Chevy, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Scion, and Toyota). Though brand aggregation into one automall is disliked by independent OEM’s, some of the loss of uniqueness is compensated by the attraction of the dealer which in Turnersville’s case includes a private test track on which customers can test their very own car.

When was the last time you saw that at a BMW dealership? For most BMW buyers, their experience of the Ultimate Driving Machine is watching TV ads and taking their new car for a spin on the highway with police watching and traffic frustrating. Sure the product is supposed to BE great, but how could you really KNOW. You couldn’t. But a BMW dealer with a test track…now that BMW purchase just became a lot more memorable!