What's behind all the talk about brands?
The idea behind developing a brand for a car is that once you have built up the brand, you can influence its direction completely. It is not affected by external conditions. For example, if you are producing a particular car model in a country whose international image deteriorates for some reason, it can have an impact on your car over which you have no control. Mercedes-Benz describes its cars as made by Mercedes-Benz, not made in Germany.
With the reduced importance of authority structures, such as the Church for example, brands are moving in to fill the gap. We already see it with names such as Nike and Coca Cola and Swatch. These brands have taken over youth culture, and companies need to get into the gap created by the new needs of customers.
It is not sufficient only to build a safe car, it must be perceived as being a safe car, the way Volvo cars are. Volvo's box design is seen by consumers as being very protective and even though other companies make equally safe cars, consumers still associate an image of safety with Volvo.