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Branding is more than the product itself

This week’s issue features my exclusive interviews with Beatrix C. Frisch, regional director APAC & general manager China for Mackevision, and Silvio Angori, CEO of Pininfarina.

The two companies are positioned along different parts of the automotive chain: one helps companies conceive, design and engineer vehicles, while the other helps them present their products for marketing. One is probably the largest independent vehicle and engineering design house in the world, while the other is probably the most unique 3D-enbabled visualization and CGI services provider in the automotive space.

They both share one common type of customer: Chinese EV startups.

At this year’s Auto Shanghai 2019 in April, Pininfarina was behind one of the vehicles presented by Karma Automotive, while Mackevision was behind the interactive touchscreens for WM Motor and the product video for CHJ Automotive’s Leading Ideal ONE Baby Blue Limited Edition nacrolacquer as well as a series of key visuals.

It has been some time since I last spoke to each of them. It was two years ago at the same venue that I spoke to Angori, when Pininfarina presented several concepts for Hong Kong-based Hybrid Kinetic Group (HKG), which is in a “hibernation” mode. It was in January 2018 that I spoke to Frisch just after Mackevision’s acquisition by Accenture (Mackevision is now part of Accenture Interactive).

So the same question I asked each of them was what they felt were the biggest changes in the industry in their respective fields since then.

Angori told me that the Chinese smart EV startups have matured since then as far as design and products are concerned, and they have realized the complexity of building a quality product and understood the way which they create or position their brands is much wider than the product itself.

“Today you need to add features (to a product) that are not intrinsic to the auto industry. This is where the major difference is,” Angori said.

These Chinese smart EV startups have certainly done that, or at least try to present those elements for ones that are in the process of launching their first vehicles.

That serves well for Mackevision, which is positioned exactly to do that, and according to Frisch, the Chinese smart EV startups are embracing new ways to add interactive features when they present or market their products, such as what was done at WM Motor.

“Realtime technology is the next big thing,” Frisch said. It simply means that one-time static images or videos are things of the past where real time rendering of images providing better immersive experience for visitors at auto shows or dealerships could be much more crucial in attracting them to brands.

This bodes well for the two companies. Both have recently expanded their China operations whether it is adding more employees or expanding business scope. They have to thank the fact that the notion of branding is more than the product itself is more prevalent here in China.

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