with jihun moon, ceo interbrand seoul

Five Questions with Wonhong Cho, CMO, Hyundai


Wonhong Cho,
CMO, Hyundai

It’s an anxious world at the moment – from Covid-19 to climate change, political instability to racial tensions, and #MeToo to Brexit, there’s a lot to deal with. How has your brand reacted to any or all of these situations?

Recently, Hyundai Motor Company refreshed our brand direction and defined ‘Progress for Humanity’ as the organization’s vision. This means that ‘People’ are considered as our top priority in everything we do and through being a brand led organization we have been able to adapt and respond authentically during all of these situations. 2020 has been a testing time, but through brand led thinking we have been able to respond not just through marketing communications but with meaningful initiatives. 

One high-profile action was your comprehensive response to COVID-19. What led to that? And how has it enabled you to progress – or survive?

Our actions have been guided by the internal belief that we should act in the interests of others, and having a strong sense of brand has enabled us to act quickly. We have donated considerable amounts to organizations around the globe and supported communities with medical supplies, transportation, and facilities to fight the spread of Covid-19. For our customers we have adjusted our own policies to ensure customers have greater financial projection at this time, and we have also provided new digital retail experiences to ensure social distancing is adhered to. All this has allowed us to connect on a deeper level, not just with our customers, but wider communities. Living by these principles as a brand allows us to strengthen relationships rather than one-off actions that fade over time. 

What has been the biggest lesson from all of this for your brand and its meaning? 

We’re living in an era where customers demand corporates to do well by doing good and we need to react to this new dynamic. By doing good, as a marketer, we mean broadening our perspectives beyond traditional manufacturing. Previously, the company’s value chain mainly focused on product excellence, but now more social values should be reflected in an ever-expanding value chain. At Hyundai, we believe our brand can deliver meaningful impact by focusing on a value chain with social values whilst delivering socially relevant messages. 

Has the last 12 months reaffirmed or changed your view on how brands need to exist and operate, now and in the future? 

2020 has meant today’s business environment is so unpredictable, and we are now entering the VUCA era (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). COVID-19 has caused widespread changes, from the way we operate to the way consumers live, and these changes will likely become our new standard. COVID-19 has accelerated the need for change from digital transformation, the way we communicate with customers, to the way we work internally. Everything is changing and it’s changing fast. Our fundamental response to this evolution is to build up an agile organization with an agile corporate culture. This framework allows us to rapidly respond to the changing customer needs and ultimately creates a customer-centric company 

What’s next for your brand – where you will be focusing in the near future to ensure growth and success?

Hyundai Motor Company has outlined a clear 2025 strategy which sets business goals and tactics to establish the organization as a leader in the automotive industry. As the whole industry is transforming, driven by a shift to electrification and digitalization, all OEMs are faced with increased investments as they look to establish themselves in the era of future mobility. For Hyundai, maintaining profitability remains key priority, and will be achieved by continuing to provide profound customer value. The key to Hyundai’s 2025 strategy will be providing this value in new ways through digital experiences and personalized value, so we are a brand that can provide a smart mobility experience.

What’s next for the Citi brand – where will you be focusing in the near future to ensure growth and success?

From a brand standpoint, we will continue to drive our mission and bring purpose, humanity, and soul to the effort. We will continue to stand up for the things that we believe are important and use our balance sheet for good. Our mission will continue to lead us in every element of our business, including our marketing.

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