Aston Martin Cygnet – Is It A Branding Mistake?

by Paul Simister on June 4, 2011

The Aston Martin Cygnet is a small, luxurious car based on the Toyota IQ which will cost £30,000 to £40,000 new.

Aston have taken the IQ and given it a new grill, door handles, leather interior and the prestigious Aston Martin badge (and probably a few other little extras).

I have mixed feelings about this.

Is There A Market For A Small Extremely Luxurious Car?

I believe there is a market for a luxury small car. Not sure about something this small but I always liked the idea behind the Panther Rio, a car from the seventies based on the Triumph Dolomite.

I think the Aston Martin Cygnet will sell.

The Cygnet is a well differentiated product – there’s nothing out there in the market that can be easily compared.

I fancy having an Aston Martin keyring myself although I won’t be buying a Cygnet.

But I also believe that it tarnishes the Aston Martin brand name.

What Does The Aston Martin Brand Stand For?

Play the word association game with me on Aston Martin.

If you’re like me, you probably get words like…

  • Fast
  • Expensive
  • British
  • Sporty
  • James Bond (from the films and not the books).

The Aston Martin Cygnet

So how does the Cygnet do?

Well it’s certainly expensive for a small car but it’s not in the £100,000 plus range.

But it’s not fast or sporty.  It only has a 1.3 litre four cylinder engine. I read that 0-60 mph was in about 11.5 seconds.

And it’s not British. When I checked on the Internet, it seems that the IQ is made in Japan.

Aston spend 150 man hours to convert the IQ into a Cygnet so you can see where a lot of the cost comes from.

As for James Bond?

Well I can’t imagine him trading in the DB9 for a Cygnet.

Buying An Aston Martin Cygnet With A One-77

I’ve read that a lot of people who have bought the £1 million plus Aston Martin One-77 have also bought a Cygnet in a “his’n’hers” style deal.

But I think it will damage the allure of the brand.

The Aston Martin Cygnet Damages The Brand

“I drive an Aston” will no longer create a mental picture of the beautiful, sleek DB9 or a Vantage. People are going to assume that you’re a wannabee with a Cygnet.

It would make me less likely to buy a proper Aston Martin although I can’t see me rushing into the market in the foreseeable future.

This branding move by Aston Martin with the Cygnet is the opposite to that done by Audi when they introduced the R8.

Aston Martin Branding vs Audi Branding Changes

I had the pleasure of taking a close look at an R8 last week and there’s no doubt that it looks a great car and again it seems to be differentiated as a practical super-car you can drive every day. But even if I was in the market, I have my doubts on whether I’d ant to spend £100k plus on an Audi.

However having the R8 in the range has added to the prestige of owning an Audi and would add to the appeal of a TT, even if I prefer the design of the old model.

It’s a tough choice at the top end of the car market.

What Super-Car Brand Would You Choose?

How do you choose between an Aston, a Ferrari or a Lamborghini?

Brand image matters and this is an even bigger stretch than Porsche with the Cayenne, which has been a big seller.

Sure the Aston Martin Cygnet may sell plenty but it damages the brand.

What do you think?

If You’re Interested In the Aston Martin Cygnet Car And Not The Brand…

Here are some links for anyone interested in the Cygnet as a car

Aston Martin website

First drive on Autoexpress

Car review

Autocar news

Paul Simister is the business coach who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, by being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace…. in other words, by building a business to be proud of.

You too can move past your profit tipping point (free report) by answering the seven big questions of business success.

{ 1 comment }

david March 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm

The new Aston Martin Cygnet has been considered as a true innovation project from hell from many leading auto critics.

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