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Aarhus BSS Author

Summer University Antonio Mineo (201604202)

Brand Management
Summer University class

Alfa Romeo
Brand Report

Aarhus BSS
August, 2017
Index
1. Brand history .......................................................................... 3

2. Brand positioning, associations and identity........................ 3

3. Brand revitalization, brand strategy and extensions .......... 6

4. Brand elements ....................................................................... 8

5. Current brand experience.................................................... 10

6. Recommendations................................................................. 11

7. References.............................................................................. 14

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1. Brand history
Founded in 1910 as A.L.F.A.1, Alfa Romeo is one of the few car brands that can boast a true 100+
year old heritage. Born in Milan, Alfa was a small car manufacturer specialized in producing cars
for competitions and later on for street use. The legendary cross and snake logo, linked to the
Milanese heritage of the brand2, is already established.
We need to wait 1915, though, to get to know the real soul of Alfa: this is the year that Nicola
Romeo takes over Alfa and rebrands it as Alfa Romeo. Quickly the brand becomes synonymous
of speed, winning races and introducing the Quadrifoglio3 in 1923: this lucky charm becomes the
symbol of fast Alfas. The years that follow, though glorious thanks to Enzo Ferrari in races4, are
plagued by financial problems. The company is nationalized, and in the 60s it lives glorious
moments thanks to defining models like the Giulia and great victories in competitions. Owing to
maladministration, the company during the 80s is in shambles and is sold to FIAT (Museo Alfa
Romeo, 2017).
FIAT will never truly understand Alfa Romeo: re-launces become routines and lost were some
essential product characteristics that define the brand5. Product offenses during the 1990s and the
2000s were unsuccessful but a relaunch in 2014 is promising to restore Alfa Romeos prestige.

2. Brand positioning, associations and identity


Alfa has always stood for speed, driving pleasure, passion and elegance: these are great values that
the brand is pushing forward today in its positioning. But taking a step back, the troubled history of
the brand has made it so that the company is still plagued by associations to bad reliability and poor
quality that impact its brand image.
After the 2014 relaunch Alfa has introduced products that go back to its heritage, thanks to
advanced technical solutions, a focus on performance and luxury and a true premium level of
quality. This revitalization strategy is trying to recoup the latent associations still present in
consumer minds. Starting from Alfas tagline, the brand is defined by La Meccanica delle
Emozioni or the mechanic of emotion. This tagline almost conceivable as a brand mantra
provides the basis of the brands positioning. Alfas positioning is developed to differentiate itself
from the category namely the premium car market. In order to define its brand the company

1
Anonima Lombarda Fabrica Automobili
2
The cross is the symbol of the city of Milan and the snake, or Biscione is the emblem of the
Visconti family, beloved rulers of Milan in the middle ages. (Sannia, 2010)
3
Four-leaf clover
4
Ferrari was born as a racing stable in Alfa
5
Like rear wheel drive, adopted by most sport cars manufacturers for agility and speed.

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describes itself with this statement: iconic Italian design, unique performance, uncompromising
technology and dynamism; you and your emotions behind the wheel are at the centre of everything
(Alfa Romeo UK, 2017).
Alfas current points of parity are evidently stressed in this statement and help it to be considered in
the same frame of reference and category as BMW and Jaguar, the true contenders of Alfa Romeo
for the premium car market. These two competitors share Alfas sense of dynamism, performance
and tech, and are distanced from the rest of the premium car market, which includes brands such as
Mercedes, Audi, Lexus and Volvo, all more oriented towards the comfort and luxury part of the
spectrum.

Image 1 - Alfa Romeo: positioning map

What is evident, though, are also Alfas competitive usage of these points of parity: the company
states clearly that if others make, Alfa creates. The brand is positioned around the concept of
emotion, declined in four different flavours: emotions as innovation, passion, beauty and design
(Alfa Romeo UK, 2017). This concept is positioned as a way to negate and improve on the
competitors.
This swiftly feeds in the points of difference associated to the brand: namely emotion, Italian design
and true old fashioned driving pleasure provided by mechanical expertise and engineering. This
positioning is different from competitors and can quickly be associated to Alfa, thanks to its
heritage and secondary association with its country of origin Italy. The brands PoDs are strong
and well suited to its positioning, and serve to enunciate the difference between its products and the
German competition, as seen in advertising (Alfa Romeo Italy, 2016). The deliverability of these
PODs and their desirability are also guaranteed thanks to the heritage of the brand and its products.

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Alfas positioning is now mostly focused on this symbolic benefit of being special, since the Alfa
customer is this passionate, sophisticated and not predictable person. A further positioning base is
found in the concrete attributes, stressed especially in markets where Alfas quality reputation has
been tarnished. Here a stress on awards won and performance figures can be seen (Alfa Romeo UK,
2017), but the usage imagery is consistent for both benefits shown.
Talking about usage imagery, strongly stressed in ads, this includes driving on a track at fast speed
and allusions to physical passion as shown in the ad Mozzafiato (Alfa Romeo USA, 2017). The
user imagery is never clearly shown, pushing more on the usage imagery: this could be a good
move so not to identify the brand with a specific customer ideal type and speaks more to
judgements and feelings, as if Alfa is in the response phase of the brand resonance pyramid
(Keller, 2013).
More secondary associations are pushed via the association of Alfa with events like the Targa
Florio (Alfa Romeo Italy, 2014) or the sponsorship of the Ferrari F1 team: the latter is an incredibly
clever way to further associate Alfa with a prestigious brand, born from Alfa itself (Sannia, 2010).
As a way to illustrate the consumer perception of Alfa Romeo obtained by interviewing
informally a small group of 4 people image 2 presents a brand concept map.

Image 2 - Alfa Romeo: brand concept map

The brand identity is quite in line with Alfas positioning: very strong were the associations to
seduction, elegance and power, with 3 out of 4 mentioning these words as the first words associated
with Alfa. Interesting links are related to the brands country of origin and the values attached to it,

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which translate to remarkable associations for the brand class, luxury, style but also bad ones,
like unreliable: this is associated to Alfa first and then to its Italian origins6.
All things considered, we can see that Alfas identity is still strong: in 107 years, the associations of
Alfa with performance, design and elegance have kept on being strong. To sum up the identity,
Kapferers identity prism is proposed below.

Image 3 - Alfa Romeo: Brand Identity Prism

3. Brand revitalization, brand strategy and extensions


Starting with the brand revitalization is essential to understand todays Alfa. The already mentioned
neglect for this brand and products had been emphasized before 2014: Alfa, despite its glorious
brand heritage and equity not to mention its brand identity was lost to the waves of the tide of
parent company FCA and its financial and integration trouble7.
Alfa Romeo started its relaunch strategy in secrecy in 20138. The reveal happened in 2014 with a
new brand premise based on its heritage and a product capable of incarnating Alfas identity, the
Giulia. This was coupled with a change in distribution channels and the start of a chase after the
German premium triad. The brand now stands for Italian designed and built product, quality,
mechanical innovation and truly Alfa design and styling. Moreover, the brand used an honest

6
This might reflect values associated to other car brands from the country and to the country itself
(think Italian political and economic instability in the last few years)
7
Fiat and Chrysler merged together in 2014 after a first share purchase by Fiat in 2011. With FCA
in better waters and in need for a premium brand capable of posting high profit margins. Useful also
to keep FCAs highly expensive Italian factories running.
8
In 2013, a skunkworks division was set-up by Ferrari engineers, effectively creating a new
company.

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approach to tell fans, consumers and stakeholders that the brands DNA was not respected in the
past years (FCA, 2014): admitting faults can create empathy and fuel expectations for change but it
puts pressure on the brand as disappointing customers, again, is not doable.
As far as the brand strategy goes, Alfa Romeo architecture stands clear. Looking at the brand
hierarchy it works as a family brand, under the corporate brand FCA. As a family/master brand it
uses sub-brands or individual brands, and employs modifiers to portray versions or specialties.
Illustrated below is the hierarchy for Giulia, the most important sub-brand at the moment for the
brand revitalization. The modifier Quadrifoglio is also present: this signals the difference between
the normal Giulia and the top of the performance range model.

Image 4 - Alfa Romeo: brand hierarchy

The strategy adopted is basically the standard in the automotive industry, and this is good since it
doesnt create confusion in consumer minds. Using sub-brands for the brand extension allows the
company to attack diverse targets, differentiating the offering: from the younger target of the Mito
to the more mature target of Giulia, all are buying because of the Alfa Romeo brand, but with a
product that fits their needs, desires and financial means. The associations with the main brand are
always prominent, making the sub-brands stronger and enhancing brand visibility. Also, the
communication and brand message are consistent and credible: no matter what car you buy, its
always an Alfa, making the master brand the primary indicator of the offering.
Critical, as we will see in Chapter 5, is the situation created by retaining products made before the
brand revitalization Mito and Giulietta9. Seeing how these products were considered by most not
to be up to standard with the brand, by associating them with Giulia if they end up not meeting
customer expectations, they will damage the Giulia and Alfas brand equity.
Additionally, the sub-brand strategy can create difficulties. Alfa is now using names from its
heritage or new names10 in the case of new product categories like SUVs and its historic number
of cylinders + C standing as cylinder naming for its extreme sport cars like the 4C and 4C

9
These were linked closely with new products and sub-brands Giulia in particular to enhance
their value
10
As better explained in Chapter 4, Alfa is now also avoiding to confuse consumers with numerical
naming or a combination of the two.

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Spider11. The brand should focus on strengthening their current sub-brands making them true staple
names for the company, avoiding the confusion and waste of resources generated by re-establishing
brand awareness and relationships. A descriptive brand-product matrix follows.

City Compact Midsize Midsize Sports


car Hatch sedan SUV car

Mito X

Giulietta X

Giulia X

Stelvio X

4C X
Table 1 - Alfa Romeo: brand product matrix

Discussions about current and previous brand elements are done in Chapter 4 while brand
extensions follow at Chapter Errore. L'origine riferimento non stata trovata..

4. Brand elements
Alfa Romeos brand elements are comprised of memorable, meaningful, likable and long lasting
brand elements, like the name and in part the logo, and some that have changed frequently, like
the slogan. Starting with the first one, the name Alfa Romeo has basically not changed since 1915:
this is great news, since consumers are all very aware of the brand name and have strong
associations with it, especially in Europe.
Notably for its recent12 USA reintroduction Alfa has had to educate consumers about its name
spelling, since Alpha is the English spelling for the word. Brand transferability is proven though,
since the problem happened in other English speaking countries: education and awareness would
improve transferability quickly. Nonetheless, the brand name is strong, and like in the case of
Chevrolet familiarly called Chevy is usually abbreviated as Alfa: this can be good, since it could
mean that customers are so familiar with the brand that just by saying Alfa they know its Alfa
Romeo. Likability and memorability are then proven.

11
Current sub-brands for each product currently include Mito for a small compact car, Giulietta
for a sporty midsized hatchback, Giulia for a premium sporty midsize sedan, Stelvio for a
premium sporty midsize SUV, 4C for a low weight, limited production sports car.
12
In 2014

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The logo on the other end has stayed stable (cross and Biscione) but it has been subjected to
redesigns: the latest change could confuse customers. On the other end, in the perspective of this
relaunch that wants to cut ties with the last 30 years, the move seems ingenious and distances these
memories in the consumer minds.

Image 5 - Alfa Romeo: brand logo evolution

The slogan on the other end has received a lot of tweaking during the years and just now the
company is settling down for La meccanica delle emozioni. The one before was Without heart
we would be mere machines: this slogan, unlike the new one, was translated in every country. The
idea of not translating it is clever, since the slogan accentuates the Italian appeal of the brand. This
move was also taken on by Audi with Vorsprung durch Technik, possibly with the same intent.
At least the slogans were always about emotion and passion, but still Alfa doesnt have a Just do
it kind of slogan.
With Alfa Romeo acting as a master brand itself a family brand of the corporate brand FCA an
element of discordance during the years has been the naming system for the sub-brands. The
naming structure has gone through numbers (147) and words (Alfetta) but also a combination of the
two (4C). To say this has been a disaster would be a understatement: Alfa now finds itself taking
names from the 50s and 60s, trying to build some kind of link to these sub-brands, retrieving
associations almost completely lost. Now sub-brands like Giulia have to establish their awareness
from point 0, since theyre substitutes of other sub-brands.
Though this makes sense in light of the brand revitalization through its heritage, nameplates that
were recently successful ended up being thrown away: Alfa needs now to start consolidate their
sub-brands, so to avoid this mistake again. Amusingly the modifiers have stayed stable during the
years: Quadrifoglio still stands for performance Alfas, Q4 for all wheel drive, and so on. This helps
with familiarity and the heritage, which, especially for Quadrifoglio, is maintained and cultivated in
consumer minds.

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The brands visual identity which includes for example the visual assets used throughout their
commination channels are also consistent and always revolve around these Alfa red banners
and a specific brand font, easy to identify.

5. Current brand experience


Good and bad things define the experience of the brand, and it all depends of the touchpoint the
customer is encountering: the customer journey still presents criticalities. Considering the relaunch,
the new target of Alfa Romeo is more upmarket and has higher expectations, which need to be
reflected in the brand experience.
Starting with communication, the brands strongest point, it can be seen that Alfa is really good at
proposing the extraordinary: with its focus on the Italian experience and its images of beautiful
sports sedans roaming the countrys roads, coupled with motivational speeches about the brand and
its users, the brand is really good at crafting an integrated communication strategy that stimulates
the affective dimension. This is true on every channel: from TV to social medias, Alfa is using the
same tone and visual identity. Moreover, user generated content is being used on Facebook (Alfa
Romeo Italy, 2017) and on the website (Alfa Romeo UK, 2017): reviews and owners pictures get
re-posted by the company. Sponsorships and other brand activities were discussed in Chapter 2, and
will be further analysed in the recommendations.

Image 6 - Alfa Romeo: Motor Village Arese

Not the same, though, can be said for other touchpoints people and place. The problem with Alfa, at
the moment, is that before this comeback the brand was sold in showrooms along with Fiat: seeing
how the brand wants now to be taken seriously as a premium brand, this cannot work any longer.
To revitalize the brand, Alfa is now in the process of making its showrooms standalone or sharing

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them with Jeep13, itself a more premium offering in FCAs portfolio: a better fit for Alfa14.
Associating the brands seems like a smart move to transfer some of Jeeps reliable and durable
image to Alfa, though the two clash when it comes to elegance and design flair15.
Surely enough, the salespeople will have to be well-informed and follow the need of the Alfa
customer, which is different from Jeeps. In order to make this happen Alfa is creating new
showroom concepts, like the Motor Village Arese: situated where the old Alfa headquarters was16,
the showroom serves as a concept showroom for the brand: a racetrack, merchandising, events and
a caf are present (Motor Village Arese, 2017). The ambiance has been studied as a premium
experience, and after a recent visit I can testify for the ambiance created by the brand: sensory and
behavioural dimensions are stimulated, with the customer invited to touch the products and engage
in activities. The new showroom concept is being implemented throughout Europe and the USA,
and its critical for the brand to succeed.
The product also needs to be addressed at least on the European market where two products,
Mito and Giulietta, survive from the pre-relaunch of 2014. These two though updated in style to
reflect a closer resemblance with newer products still retain most elements associable with poorer
dynamism, quality and comfort: seeing how these are also the most easily accessible products of the
brand more affordable and quite popular in certain markets they undermine the brand
experience and need to be replaced as soon as possible.
Talking about processes, after sales service suffers from the same problem as the showrooms but, at
least, prodigious strides have been made in making the brand more accessible, thanks to apps and
24h helplines.

6. Recommendations
Criticalities that Alfa has to address now, after the initial revitalization stage, pivot around the
brands positioning and associations, experience and its extensions.
Starting with the positioning and associations, Alfa should better recognize its strategic
connection to a brand that has great equity to share: Ferrari. Not only Ferrari is part of investments
company EXOR FCAs owner it also designs some of Alfas current engines and the company

13
At least in Europe
14
This mirrors closely what Jaguar Land Rover has done with its brands, selling their sport cars
and sport utility vehicles together under a premium banner, and trying to piggyback associations
from each brand.
15
Yet Jeep is being repositioned to be more in line with these two elements, pushing more
decidedly towards the premium segment: the strategy might work.
16
In Milan, coupled with the companys recently renewed museum

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itself has been rebuilt by Ferrari engineers: sponsoring the Ferrari F1 team, though symbolic,
doesnt elevate Alfas positioning as the everyday Ferrari it could aspire to be.
Ferraris associations could well serve Alfa in the American market too, were the brand of the
prancing horse has been present for 60 years (Ferrari USA, 2014) out of its 70 years existence.
Unique drivers that could be stressed more include the underdog positioning of Alfa in
consumers minds: the brand is not as strong as it was in its heyday and its new products, though
technically superior in many ways in regards to the competition, need to be identified as so by
consumers. To position this brand as one that is on a comeback and wants to think differently in
regards to cars focusing on driving pleasure in a world moving towards autonomy could be a
winning strategy. If something in line with this was explored with the recent ad Say my name
(Alfa Romeo USA, 2016), this aspect should leave just the communication part of the experience
and permeate throughout the brand experience. This could be coupled with the current attack on
boring, associated to the German competition.
A move that would help both positioning and the brand experience, would be a better and stronger
association with Maserati: both brands could use an association to each other, becoming the Italian
alternative to luxury, sport and granturismo. Alfas dealer network in the USA has been built partly
with Fiats already present Fiat Studios but also with Maseratis dealerships: it goes without saying
that a person whos likely going to buy an Alfa Romeo is more inspired by Maserati than by Fiat
500s. FCA expressed interest in moving in this direction (FCA, 2016) and it should be adopted,
quickly. Special by Maserati editions could be though out, so to do co-branding.
Moreover, cross-promotion could also be considered: here the risk is that Alfa, not being that well
developed yet as a brand, could negatively influence Maseratis brand associations this
recommendation is left for the distant future.
When it comes to the brand experience several recommendations can be formulated to improve
the consumer interface with the brands touchpoints.
First, sponsorships need to be rethought. These represent a great way to build brand awareness and
create strong associations: events in fashion, design, racing and technology need to be heavily
supported by Alfa. Playing on the brands Milanese origins the Milan Fashion Week could be
sponsored, and the brand could also look into co-branding agreements and sponsorships with Italian
fashion ateliers like Giorgio Armani17. Celebrity endorsements are not employed currently by the
brand, though Uma Thurman was associated to the Giulietta sub-brand in the past: an Italian brand

17
Maserati has already started doing this with Italian designer Ermenegildo Zegna. It has integrated
the atelier not just in the promotion, but in products itself: Zegna provides the design and materials
for the interior of Maseratis most expensive product versions.

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ambassador think Monica Bellucci could provide some further associations with beauty and
Italian excellence. Branded entertainment should also be put to function. BMW has had events like
the BMW NEXT 100, a three-day event in Alfas Milan stronghold18: Alfa Romeo can and should
do the same, using its heritage and newly found confidence to create such events and engage
customers, non-customers and fans.
Finally, the brands extensions and consequentially its product strategy need to be re-evaluated.
Adding to what was aforementioned in chapter 5, currently Alfas revitalized extensions include
just Giulia, Stelvio and to a certain extent 4C: to think that these three models can create a full
product line and can have beneficial effects on the overall brand associations is an overestimation.
Alfa needs urgently new brand extensions, catering to different customers and capable of
reinforcing the brands identity and positioning. In the car industry halo cars capable of
representing the brand and of making a statement, have worked well for todays premium car
segment leaders: look at Audis R8 or Lexus LFA. A new expression of Alfas last halo car, the
8C, could certainly reinforce the brands positioning, especially if accompanied by new nameplates
the companys normal customers could end up buying. A more inspirational extension that could
help drive the brands positioning could also be a retro-inspired19 Alfa Spider also called Duetto
like the one driven by Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate (Webb, 1967). This is still of on the most
vivid associations with Alfa in American culture, and could be a great way to let customers buy into
the brands values.
Furthermore as said in Chapter 3 the company should try to reinforce its current sub-brands,
possibly expanding these via modifiers, reaching new target segments: coup and cabriolet versions
of the Giulia should be developed, for example.

18
The BMW brand became an experience with track testing, special events and a full show of the
brands innovation in the years and design
19
Similarly to FCAs own Fiat 500

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7. References
Alfa Romeo Italy. (2014, May 4). ALFA ROMEO MAIN SPONSOR ALLA 100ESIMA TARGA FLORIO.
Retrieved from Alfa Romeo Italy: http://www.alfaromeo.it/alfa-news/2016/alfa-romeo-sponsor-
targa-florio
Alfa Romeo Italy. (2016). Alfa Romeo Giulia Spot (2016). Retrieved from YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQXCJ5LzLBo
Alfa Romeo Italy. (2017, July 25). #AlfaLovers - Alfa Romeo 4C - Hristian Sashkov. Retrieved from
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/AlfaRomeoIT/photos/a.731475657004973.1073741828.7268135408045
18/893498130802724/?type=3&theater
Alfa Romeo UK. (2017). Alfa Romeo Giulia Reviews. Retrieved August 6, 2017, from AlAlfa Romeo UK:
https://www.alfaromeo.co.uk/alfa-romeo-giulia-reviews
Alfa Romeo UK. (2017, August 1). Alfa Romeo Models. Retrieved from Alfa Romeo UK:
https://www.alfaromeo.co.uk/models/alfa-romeo-models
Alfa Romeo UK. (2017, August 1). Alfa Romeo Soul. Retrieved from Alfa Romeo UK:
https://www.alfaromeo.co.uk/alfa-romeo-world/la-meccanica-delle-emozioni/alfa-romeo-soul
Alfa Romeo UK. (2017, March 13). Alfa Romeo UK | The All-New Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio.
Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFPOxwppNBo
Alfa Romeo USA. (2016, November 16). Say My Name I Stelvio Quadrifoglio I Alfa Romeo USA . Retrieved
from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMl_Jwa3AX0
Alfa Romeo USA. (2017, February 5). Official 2017 Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Bowl Commercial |
Mozzafiato . Retrieved from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1uF81gmh9IQ
FCA. (2014, May 6). Investor day - Alfa Romeo brand. Auburn Hills, Illinois, USA.
FCA. (2016, January 27). Business Plan Update 2014 2018. Auburn Hills, Illinois, USA.
Ferrari USA. (2014). 60 Years In the USA. Retrieved August 7, 2017, from Ferrari:
http://auto.ferrari.com/en_US/60-years-in-the-usa/
Keller, K. L. (2013). Strategic Brand Management. Prentice Hall.
Motor Village Arese. (2017). Motor Village Arese. Retrieved from Motor Village Arese:
http://arese.motorvillageitalia.it/#showroomalfa
Museo Alfa Romeo. (2017, August 1). La Storia Alfa Romeo. Retrieved from Museo Alfa Romeo:
https://www.museoalfaromeo.com/it-it/storia/Pages/origini.aspx
Sannia, A. (2010). Alfa Romeo - 100 anni di leggenda. Milan: Gribaudo.
Webb, C. (Writer), & Nichols, M. (Director). (1967). The Graduate [Motion Picture]. USA. Retrieved from
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6Dkmw_Pajw

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