As we count down to the start of the new year, we're talking about some of the best branding moments of 2013. One that stands out in particular for us as a brilliant example of how breaking boundaries, or rethinking categories, can create a unique brand experience, is Hyundai Card's new Design Library, opened this past spring.
Hyundai Card has a long history of innovation and challenging categories. From its inception in 2006 the brand has demonstrated new thinking about traditional businesses. Hyundai Card itself is the result of out-of-the-box thinking, breaking down category limitations, creating a joint venture company in 2001 between Hyundai Motor Group and GE Capital. Combining efforts of an automobile brand and credit card services brand, it clearly demonstrated an understanding that as consumers seek to experience more of brands, rather than the physical benefits that a product or service can offer, the importance in delivering a unique brand experience is becoming ever more important. This is true in both the financial and automotive industries.
Under the brand identity, "Innovation," Hyundai Card always tries to find new ways to inspire customers and let them know that the brand does not merely provide financial services, but offers services that make their lives more valuable and enriching. Some of the services that represent this brand proposition are: "Gourmet Week," an annual event week where gourmands can enjoy discounted offers at best-selling local restaurants; "PREVIA," an internet-based shopping mall exclusive to Hyundai customers; and "Hyundai Card Super Concert," an annually held event where customers can enjoy music from top global artists. Through these services, Hyundai Card has strongly positioned itself as a lifestyle brand in the Korean market.
Hyundai Card expanded its concept of brand extension from delivering "entertaining & cultural" to "intellectual inspiration" with the launch of Hyundai Card Design Library, its first physical space where the philosophy of the brand is expressed and intellectual inspiration is shared at the same time. "Design" is Hyundai Card’s core asset that makes the brand distinctive and unique in the market. Thus, creating a design library was a natural step for the brand to take in order to deliver a holistic brand experience.
From planning to implementation, consistent guidelines ensured a quality experience exclusive to the Hyundai Card brand. All of the interior elements of the library followed the visual identity style of the brand. Even the way the design books are selected abide by seven clear principles. Selections must be: Inspiring, Useful, Wide-Ranging, Influential, Thorough, Aesthetically Pleasing and Timeless. The logic and reasoning behind every implementation was the key to delivering true inspiration.
Some might question the idea of a card company launching a design library. However, for Hyundai Card, it was largely seen as another way for the brand to show its innovation and inspire customers. Hyundai Card's Design Library launch was a key branding moment this year. It's sent a clear message that sometimes crossing the boundaries of brand expression can be a better way to truly engage.
Minjin Choi is a Strategy Consultant at Interbrand Seoul.