Mercedes-Benz, Honda Are 2012 Brands Of The Year

June 26, 2012

How do you measure a company's value? Sure, you can look at sales figures, earnings, and other bean-countery things, but there's something just as important that's much harder to measure -- namely, the company's brand.

When we talk about a "brand", we mean more than a logo, a color scheme, a design sensibility. A brand is what we could loosely call a company's image: how we view that company, how it makes us feel. Do we respect it? Fear it? Laugh at it? Does it inspire us with confidence? Or is it just a quick and easy alternative to more reliable options?

Companies like Harris Interactive have made names for themselves measuring the values of well-known brands. Harris has just released its EquiTrend Scorecard on the automotive sector, which should be of interest to fans of Mercedes-Benz and Honda -- though Toyota, Ford, and Chevrolet drivers have reason to cheer, too.

Measuring brand value

Harris' latest data comes from a survey carried out online between January 31 and February 20, 2012.  During that time, Harris fielded responses from over 38,500 consumers "on key measures of brand health - including how well the public knows a brand, how positively they think of the brand and their consideration to do business with...a brand."

In order for a brand to qualify for rankings, it had to be rated 1,000 times by respondents who were familiar with it. Otherwise, the comparisons wouldn't be entirely fair.

Luxury brands

Among luxury cars, Mercedes-Benz walked off with top honors for the second year in a row, with a total Harris brand score of 61.02. Runners-up came in a clump, led by BMW (58.71), Lexus (58.40), and Cadillac (58.39). Acura, Infiniti, and Audi also landed above the category average score of 54.78.

Not faring so well? Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Saab, and Volvo. Harris listed those in alphabetical order, though we have a feeling we know which one landed at the bottom of the pile.

Mass-market brands

When it comes to mass-market car brands -- or in Harris lingo, "Full Line Automakers" -- the race was much closer. Honda drove to the #1 spot, with a score of 62.55, but the competition was hot on its heels. When the votes had been tallied, Toyota (62.51), Ford (62.10), and Chevrolet (61.95) all landed within striking distance of the top.

Rounding out the top automakers were Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Volkswagen, which all scored above the category average of 53.02. 

Below the line, we find Buick, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Kia, Mazda, MINI, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki. (Apparently, there weren't enough GMC, Jeep, Ram, or Scion owners in the survey to reach the 1,000-person threshold.)

Other winners

But Harris' poll didn't just include automakers; it also ranked aftermarket manufacturers, service companies, and more. Here are a few more EquiTrend Scorecard winners, in alphabetical order by category:

  • Top Automotive Service Center Brand: NAPA AutoCare
  • Top Car Audio Brand: Bose
  • Top GPS Navigation Brand: Garmin
  • Top Motor Oil Brand: Pennzoil
  • Top Motorcycle Brand: Yamaha
  • Top Online Auto Shopping Brand: KBB
  • Top Tire Brand: Michelin

Do these match up with your own assessments of the auto sector? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below -- and be sure to check out the overview of brand rankings at the Harris Interactive website.

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