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Brand mobility: Volkswagen shows it's not only about cars

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VW electric bike

According to Marty Neumeier in his excellent book, The Brand Gap, a brand, simply put, is “a person’s gut feeling about a product, service or organization.” But all too often, when considering a product roadmap, companies become hemmed in by what they perceive to be their expertise without realizing just how many things can contribute to people’s gut feelings. In so doing, they lose out on lateral opportunities in nearby market segments with perfect brand overlap.

Consider Volkswagen’s recently unveiled concept for a motorized, foldable bicycle. When announcing its first ever two-wheeler at the Auto China 2010 exhibition in April, VW’s chief of research and development, Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg was quick to point out that Volkswagen’s “focus on mobility” extends well beyond cars. The implication is that VW intends to take advantage of the room under its brand promise for more integrated solutions for getting you around, regardless of whether an automobile is involved.

At the same time, VW is careful to not distance the concept too far from its core brand values. The bike’s 12.5 mile range is clearly designed for short day trips (after having driven somewhere perhaps?) and with a top speed of 12 mph or so, it’s certainly not intended as a replacement for a car. And then, as if to leave no doubt about the symbiotic relationship between the bike and its cars, they show how the bike folds up to fit neatly into your VW’s spare tire compartment.

Next time you are planning your product roadmap, consider what adjacent customer experiences are there for the taking if you just expand your product offerings into them.

About the Author

Marc Escobosa

As the lead designer for nearly all major releases of the Arena application from 2001 to 2012, Marc played the chief role in crafting the user experience for all Arena ...

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