Our friends at Lifehacker today had a good feature on why being fiercely loyal to any one brand is a terrible idea. They framed much of their argument through the lens of tech and the Apple vs. Android debate. Naturally, I wonder how this applies to cars. How loyal are you to any one specific car brand?

Brand loyalty is definitely an emotional, intangible thing rather than a logical one. It’s deeply personal. The loyalty can come from a place of love, driving the car your father was fond of. It can also come from a place of disdain, getting turned off to one brand or another after a bad experience.

Advertisement

I think there has to be a defined difference between preferences — picking something that suits your needs or wants — and blind brand loyalty, choosing one company over another for no good reason and excluding all other possibilities. That’s never a good thing.

Is that kind of intense, deep-seated brand loyalty in cars as prominent as it used to be in this country? Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t feel like it is. It’s not uncommon to hear older people say they grew up in “a Ford family” or “a Chrysler family”, one that always put their dollars in the same place as they moved up (or down) the economic ladder.

While domestic divides don’t seem as common today, there are plenty of people still who will only buy Hondas or only lease a new BMW every three years. If anything, as cars have become more equalized in terms of safety, features and reliability, it’s a bit harder to justify these hard preferences. Of course you have brand fanboys or fangirls, but they’re a relatively small percentage of buyers.

Advertisement

And brands change over time. Mini is a good example of that. Their newest crop of cars is probably their best ever, but it’s also the furthest one yet from the original small, city-friendly premise. Mini is moving more and more mainstream seemingly at the cost of the original core audience, even when the cars are solid products. It’s hard to stay loyal to a brand if it doesn’t give you what you came for in the first place.

How much does brand loyalty enter into your car buying process?

Photo Credit: Mini


Contact the author at patrick@jalopnik.com.