What Hyundai Forklifts is doing to a lift its brand image

Forklift division undertakes brand overhaul to help lift awareness and reach in Australia

It’s been 35 years since Australian motorists first started saying ‘hi to Hyundai’. But while the massive Korean manufacturing conglomerate has done an amazing job of building recognition as an automotive brand, some of its other its other products are not so well recognised.

This has been a challenge faced by the company’s forklift division and its managing director for Australia, Jeff Akres, who four years ago took on the job of building traction in a market dominated by Toyota Material Handling and Crown Equipment.

“The first few years were really about understanding the marketplace to see how we would position ourselves, and then to build a dealer network where we could offer a national solution,” Akres tells CMO.

With that groundwork laid, in 2019 the company engaged strategy and brand consultancy, BrandQuest, to build an identity that would resonate with customers that range from small operations to massive logistics companies, as well as with the dealers that sell to them. According to BrandQuest principal, Jason Eisner, creating alignment of the brand with dealers has been one of the key goals of the engagement.

“Everyone knows Hyundai but no one knows Hyundai Forklifts,” Eisner says. “We believe the best and most valuable and most authentic brands aren’t about BrandQuest telling you what it is, it actually comes from within the organisation. So we grabbed all the dealers, put them in a room, and we did a day where we extracted what’s special about the Hyundai Forklift brand.”

One of the key decisions was to shift the brand positioning away from ‘materials handling’ to ‘high performance’, to better reflect the products’ differentiation, and specifically its technology-based attributes around reliability, safety and comfort.

Akres says these latter attributes are especially important for forklift drivers, for whom the vehicle is effectively their office for eight hours a day, and who have a lot of sway over purchasing decisions. This message is reinforced in the company’s new tagline of being ‘The driver’s choice’.

Also, promoting a reputation for reliability appeals strongly to warehouse managers who are reliant on these vehicles to meet daily picking quotas.

“All of these items need to be ticked off before you’ll even get on one of these tenders,” Akres says.

Having nailed down the branding and value proposition, BrandQuest and Hyundai then took it out to the network of 15 dealers, via a national roadshow which wrapped up a week before COVID-19 lockdowns came into effect. Akres says the roadshows have been effective in communicating the brand identity with dealers.

“Right now we are miles from where we were a year ago, and BrandQuest has been a big part of that,” he says.

With the dealers now aligned to the vision, Eisner says the next step is to bring that same perspective into the minds of buyers.

“There is zero penetration at the moment that Hyundai equals high performance forklifts,” Eisner says. “But once they see Hyundai, then they are in their consideration set, and the rest starts to happen.”

A key part of that effort will focus on radio advertising, which Eisner believes is best suited for reaching would-be buyers in their workplace and during their commute. This will be coupled with an extensive Google AdWords campaign to reach buyers when they are researching products and will be backed by investments in campaign automation.

“This is a long-term purchase, so we want to make sure we capture them from the beginning and nurture them through,” Eisner says.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

 

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