LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification has changed the way we see buildings. Any building, from private homes to corporate headquarters, without LEED’s stamp of approval is a public sign that it is not resource efficient. Originally considered the benchmark in green building, LEED has since trickled into the automotive industry. Cars can now be LEED-qualified if they are fuel efficient or low emitting. Consumers overwhelmed by a dealership’s sea of cars can look for a LEED symbol on the car’s exterior to help make their final purchase decision.
But what if we went beyond LEED certification for cars? Sure, a car can be eco-friendly, but does that necessarily guarantee it's passenger friendly, too?
With a lingering distrust—perhaps even a fear—of autonomous vehicles, automotive companies will need to launch new vehicles that assure consumers they are not only energy efficient, but also safe and reliable. This opens the doors for new types of certifications and ingredient brands—such that meet new safety requirements, communication standards and convey efficiency and eco-friendliness.
Ingredient brands and certifications have the potential to revolutionize the industry and become game changers in consumer decision-making.
Ingredient branding has been in business for decades, and whether we are aware of it or not, it has played a critical role in elevating brand value. A brand itself serves to distinguish products in like categories, however ingredient branding pushes the product even further by giving it its own additional value. Dodge is a classic example of using ingredient branding to elevate its collection. Its 2004 campaign, “Does it got a Hemi?” created a new playing field. Previously, average car buyers did not think to ask what type of engine was in a car. But Dodge’s campaign prompted buyers to ask this unexpected question that Dodge’s competitors did not want to answer.
Later on, Pantene revolutionized hair care with its launch of “Pantene with Pro-V.” Its effective marketing campaigning of the Pro-V ingredient led to Procter & Gamble’s most successful launch in its 175-year history, leading to the fastest recorded growth of a P&G brand and highest sales for Pantene.
Now take Teflon, Gore-Tex, and Intel’s Pentium (a Lexicon credential). These three distinct brands share one thing in common: they are all ingredient brands. And, each brand has become part of our everyday language. Consumers no longer settle for regular pans or rain jackets; they seek out the products made with Teflon and Gore-Tex because they know they will perform the best.
So what if ingredient branding were applied to cars (outside of engine type)? How can we go beyond a simple LEED certification?
As autonomous vehicles begin to replace—even dominate—the automotive space, ingredients inside them will matter more than ever before.
In addition to using energy efficient power, autonomous cars might offer ingredient packages that contain specific features. These packages can serve to create new standards across the board—in energy, technology, and safety related are just a few ways they can do this. To comfort autonomous vehicle users, they might contain Securo, a safety package that includes early warning alerts, back-up cameras, and an enhanced form of computerized ABS break systems.
Passengers prone to heart attacks or seizures would no longer have to worry about having an attack on the road. They can purchase a feature like Pulso, a health and fitness package that includes seating that constantly measures your heart rate and senses changes in behavior and wellness. That way, it can adjust accordingly to rising stress levels and can even take you to the nearest ER if needed.
In conjunction with ingredient branding, the rise of autonomous vehicles in the market will open the door for new endorsement brands. The American Dental Association (ADA) for example, currently endorses certain brands that meet their health requirements. Major brands like Colgate and Arm & Hammer benefit from this kind of endorsement; their packaging signals to consumers that their products are ADA accepted. A similar form of endorsement can be launched for autonomous vehicles—perhaps even in the form of an American Autonomous Vehicle Association.
Though these are only a few examples, it is apparent that ingredient branding is about to take on a much greater role—that simply cannot be ignored—as autonomous cars launch in today’s world.
- Kennedy Placek