Scion Gets Personal

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Toyota’s hipster brand Scion is now letting “enthusiasts” (i.e., their most loyal customers) personalize their own coats of arms, following the growing commercial trend of strengthening bonds with target audiences by allowing them to customize their own experiences. Lynnley Browning describes Scion’s move in a New York Times article today:

“…In making their personalized crests, Scion owners can choose from among hundreds of symbols, all designed by a professional graffiti artist [Tristan Easton of Thunderdog; formerly of KidRobot]. The symbols range from an eagle, a jester, a king’s crown and a worker’s fist to Japanese anime-style flowers, a three-person family and a yin-yang circle. Customers can download their designs and have them made into window decals or take them to an auto airbrushing shop to have them professionally painted onto their cars.

Ideas for the designs came from workshops (i.e., focus groups?) that brought together Scion “enthusiasts” to help the brand “create a symbolic language authentic to the Scion community.” Tagged Scion Speak, the campaign is seen as Toyota’s move into the still-largely-unbranded territory of social networking sites. Browning continues:

“…As social networking websites like Friendster, MySpace and Facebook have risen to popularity, consumer brand companies have been trying to figure out where they can fit in.

Social networking for brand marketers “is all very unexplored territory,” said Jim Nail, the chief strategy and marketing officer of Cymfony, a unit of TNS Media Intelligence, in Boston. “These places have been for individuals to connect with one another, and brands have been relatively absent. But the benefit of it is having that very intimate direct conversation with customers.””

Benefits for whom?

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