Brand Community Media Strategy

What’s Love Got to Do With It? Subaru “Drive” Magazine

After a year of driving my Subaru Impreza, I was surprised to receive an issue of Subaru’s brand magazine, Drive. It’s smart: using print as a push vehicle cuts through a lot of social media noise. The magazine offers solid customer focus, with useful info and some decent photography for the Subaru aficionado. You can find Subaru Drive online here.

There’s no doubt Subaru has succeeded in cultivating a loyal brand community by communicating with strongly emotive language and imagery. Love and support for their adventurous and iconoclastic customers resonates in their messaging, and more importantly, this attitude seems to extend to customer touchpoints from the sales floor to the service window. When arriving at my dealer, I receive a uniformly personal and efficient greeting, plus free coffee and a car wash to offset the somewhat spendy service.

You could question whether the Subaru message of love rings true (or could possibly ring true). We’re talking about an industrial enterprise that assembles metal and plastic parts, throws some paint ’em, and rolls ’em out the door. Subaru has a particularly ominous challenge ahead as its core customers seek greener pastures in the form of alternative energy transportation. And it’s not clear that a legacy niche player like Subaru can contend with the innovative startups (e.g., Tesla) on one side, and tech/industrial powerhouses (e.g., Toyota, Ford, and GM) on the other.

So, what’s love got to do with it? Well, insofar as there CAN be love for basic transportation, Subaru engenders it convincingly. The message still resonates. Subaru Drive offered some VALUE—a couple of travel destination ideas and an enticing preview of the 2019 Forester—and I PAID attention.

Subaru images used under FAIR USE for the purpose of commentary and criticism.