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The Brand Council case studies: Mercedes-Benz

Originally published in 'Cool BrandLeaders', August 2002. The book reviews the UK's strongest cool brands as judged by the independent Brand Council Judges.

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Case study provided by The Brand Council.

The Mercedes-Benz brand conjures up images of motoring luxury, quality and performance. Indeed, the brand has been responsible for producing some of the world's most stylish performance cars.

The common values of all Mercedes-Benz cars are superb design and engineering, together with a sense of heritage. The name Emil Jellinek probably won't ring any bells but his ten year old daughter Mercedes will. In 1898 Karl Benz designed a new car for Jellinek to compete in the 'Nice Race' that year and on Jellinek's request, it was named after his daughter, Mercedes.

The famous Mercedes-Benz star logo came about after Karl Benz sent his wife a postcard with a star marking out the house where he was living in Deutz, Germany. "One day this star will shine down on my work", he wrote.

1909 a trademark was taken out on the star, the three points of which have come to symbolize the threefold nature of motor transport - by land, sea and air. They have also come to represent what the brand stands for : service and safety and all over the world, a pioneering spirit and tradition.

Racing has always been in the brand's blood and indeed was responsible for the formation of Mercedes-Benz in the first place. Back in 1924, after winning 269 races between them, Daimler and Benz, up to that point competing companies, opted to cooperate and merged their operations into the present day Mercedes-Benz.

Innovation and dramatic styling is also part of the company's tradition. 1952 saw the introduction of the futuristic, gull-wing doored 300 SL; a dream car from the moment it made its first appearance. With a top speed of over 150 mph, it was the first of the famous SL-Class models. On the race track, the car was a huge success, leading to the creation of the 190SL, a 'popular' and more affordable version. The pedigree line has continued to this day with the current generation of SL roadsters that epitomise head-turning elegance as much as sportiness on the road. The line continues with the SLKClass, unveiled as a 'concept car' at the 1994 Turin Motor Show to a rapturous welcome. A new SL-Class was launched in April 2002 in the UK and the SLR will be launched in 2003.

The other facets of the Mercedes-Benz personality -- safety and technical innovation- - are hugely important to the brand. Mercedes was the first in the world to fit a four-valve diesel engine in a car to offer enhanced performance, smoothness and extreme longevity. In addition, as early as 1961, the company started to fit anchorage points for seat belts as standard. Mercedes also pioneered ABS braking, the airbag, pre-tensioning devices and the passenger safety cell.

The innovative Mercedes-Benz A-Class heralded a new generation of relatively small vehicles which boast the abilities of larger ones in finding space for people and luggage, but in a pleasingly compact frame. The A-Class has also attracted a younger group of people to the Mercedes-Benz brand, with more relaxed lifestyle values than the traditional Mercedes-Benz owner. The stylish 'Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz' TV and print campaign helped to introduce a new generation of people to the brand, as well as reflecting its aspirational qualities. In addition, Mercedes continues to sponsor carefully selected events which reflect the brand's values.

Mercedes-Benz occupies a position at the pinnacle of the motor industry and the brand still represents 'dream car' status amongst a new generation of drivers.

© 2002 Superbrands Ltd

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