How Audi engineered smarter approach to brand building on social media

Many people confuse building a brand with building awareness. Making the right people aware of you is a big part of brand marketing, of course, but it’s not the only thing you have to achieve. There’s far more to it than that.

The art of building a brand involves moving people through several different stages of consideration, having different conversations at different moments, and with different purposes in mind. There’s a lot of nuance to how you address the varied audiences that will decide the success of your products, and the objectives that you have in mind when you do. You need awareness, but you also need association and affirmation, building reputation and word of mouth, intrigue and interest, desire and aspiration, and the conviction that a brand and product are right. I’m fascinated by these different dimensions of brand building, because I work with clients in the auto category. The relationship that auto brands have with their future buyers can be some of the most complex of all.

It’s rare for a campaign to take on all of these different aspects of brand building at once – but in recent months I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with one that has. It was ambitious, superbly planned, and one of the most successful I’ve ever seen for an auto brand on social media. It shows what a forward-thinking brand and smart agencies can achieve on LinkedIn. It also shows how brand-building can evolve to make greater use of data and personalisation while losing none of its emotive power.

The power of in-depth brand planning

Audi and its agencies PHD and We Are Social knew from the start that LinkedIn would be the ideal platform for launching the new A8 model. The A8 is a premium saloon packed with exclusive and superior technology. The audience that could appreciate this elegance and innovation were on LinkedIn – and far easier to identify and target on our platform than anywhere else. Audi therefore made an early decision to launch the A8 social campaign exclusively on LinkedIn. As Audi UK’s social media manager Rich Burgess put it, the high-end professional audiences we were able to reach on LinkedIn made it the perfect partner for the launch of the new Audi A8.”

This gave PHD and We Are Social the license to explore a highly innovative approach on a single social platform. The campaign that we planned was evocative, emotive and aspirational – but we also used LinkedIn data to tailor our approach to distinct audiences that would each contribute to the brand conversation. We planned different phases of the campaign that would intrigue, inform and help to define a particular concept of luxury: a vehicle with both brains and an understated sense of real style.

For those who drive – and those who are driven

We started by working with the agencies to identify the people most likely to drive the A8, to be driven in it, and to aspire to drive it in the future. This quickly produced some interesting insights. For the first time on social media, Audi was able to speak to two key audiences: top executives and entrepreneurs who buy and drive for themselves, and the chauffeurs who invest in vehicles to drive senior executives. Every aspect of our campaign was tailored to the particular needs of these two distinct audiences.

Our high-end B2C campaign targeted senior company directors and above, with a specific focus on those who had recently made a career change, which research shows is a powerful trigger for car purchases. At the same time, we reached out to those with the potential to influence brand perceptions around the A8, such as journalists and opinion formers. And we added a ‘halo effect’ to our targeting by delivering content to affluent millennials where we had the potential to build aspiration around both the Audi brand and the A8 model.


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