Auto Correct: Why an Automotive Association Updated Its Brand

Aiming to clarify who exactly it represents, the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association recently adopted a new name as part of an extensive overhaul of the organization that also included a change in the way it tells its story.

Another day, another association rebrand. But one of the latest associations to reinvent itself is not just changing its name but is also changing its story.

People just did not understand what the aftermarket was, and, consequently, they didn’t understand what our association was.

Last week the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association announced it will now be known as the Auto Care Association, and it will refer to the industry it represents as the auto care industry.

“People just did not understand what the aftermarket was, and, consequently, they didn’t understand what our association was,” said the group’s senior vice president, Richard White. “The term ‘aftermarket,’ which is what we called the industry and our association, was unclear. It was confusing, and it even has negative connotations thanks to some other industry aftermarkets that produce secondary or inferior products and services.”

The rebranding process—to help consumers, the media, policymakers, and other key stakeholders better understand what the association and its members were all about—began about a year and a half ago with a lot of research.

“We did telephone interviews, one-on-one , in-person interviews, brand summits, online focus groups for industry folks and consumers,” White said.

That research informed a different story for the auto “care” industry—one that focuses less on the structure of the industry and more on consumers and the value members provide them. “Whatever role our members play in the industry, they are contributing to taking care of Americans’ automobiles,” White said. “We’re talking about that and putting a human face on our industry, and that is a total change.”

So far, the response from members and the public has been positive, said White, who attributed that to the extensive research the association did in partnership with a Washington, DC-area communications agency.

He also credited an extensive rollout plan. “We spent months and months teasing [the rebrand],” he said.  “So by the time we launched, everyone was expecting it, and they had kind of bought in. That was huge, because then people felt part of it.”

(Autocare Association screenshot)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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