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Audi is testing a branding change when it comes to high performance models. quattro GmbH, the brand’s performance subsidiary, has long built the fastest and most exotic Audi models, but the ‘quattro’ branding so ubiquitous within the Audi lexicon left nearly anyone short of Audi fans confused and/or unaware as to what quattro GmbH represented. Enter Audi Sport.
This topic came up in a one on one conversation we had with a senior quattro GmbH executive ahead of the 2013 Frankfurt IAA motor show. The challenge, as presented candidly to us then, was that very same permeation and breadth of use of the name ‘quattro’. As it was apparent to us back then, quattro GmbH as a company or division of Audi didn’t even have a logo of its own in order to help further differentiate the sub-brand.
In the time since that trip to Germany, quattro as a marketed brand has grown. Still way too subtle for non-Audi followers to pick up, most quattro GmbH RS-cars beginning with the RS 6 and RS 7 featured ‘quattro’ script logos on their grilles. While it made a mark to those who knew, quattro decals on the doors of nearly an Audi model not to mention quattro badges on any all-wheel drive Audi model didn’t help differentiation like competing divisions M GmbH at BMW or AMG at Mercedes-Benz.
Back then, the Audi Sport name was only associated with Audi’s motorsport endeavors. Even still, Audi Sport as a sub-brand is about as credible as you can get. Audi’s extremely dominant motorsport division has shown an unmatched rapid march to dominance at Le Mans, and has seen countless successes in rally, touring car and GT racing.
Up until recently, Audi Sport’s trademark red rhombus logo was only ever used (properly following internal branding standards) with the Audi Sport name. As a badge it adorned every S and RS model going, later also added to the R8.
Since that time, the red rhombus has broken out a bit. It stands alone on liveries like the very top of the 2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, and also later on consumer product brochures of the RS-models. Also during this time, Audi Sport launched its own customer racing division, a division operated as a profit-driven business unit that is managed by quattro GmbH. If you watch branding closely, you may have seen where this was going.
Just this week, Audi Australia announced that it would serve as a global pilot market, one of two including the UK, for the launch of the Audi Sport sub-brand as it relates to consumer product including the RS-cars and the R8. Beginning in these markets, Audi Sport will become the new forward facing name of quattro GmbH.
Audi Australia confirmed that no less than 15 of its dealerships will install dedicated Audi Sport sections by the end of the year. While Australians will still be able to purchase an RS-car or an R8 at any Australian Audi dealership, these stores will feature branding, an abundant selection of RS and R8 models, Audi Sport specialists on staff and more concentrated merchandising of Audi collection products and specifically Audi Sport products.
Associating Audi’s highest performance models with their decades of racing dominance seems to make sense. That association is much more targeted than the quattro moniker affixed to nearly every Audi.
Why Australia? Like most brands in the Australian market, Audi sells more of its performance cars as a percentage of overall sales. The strength of sales of these cars in Australia suggest that Australian customers and dealerships were the most ripe on which to test such a branding shift.
At the presentation, Audi Australia president Andrew Doyle commented:
“The ‘brand-within-a-brand’ concept is an effective way of bringing together all of the exciting elements of our motorsport heritage and the performance characteristics of our brand under the new name of Audi Sport.
“Our motorsport program, along with our high-end RS and R8 performance models, are a clear reflection of what Audi Sport means to our company. It’s about heritage, success, emotion and top performance –these are the aspects of the Audi Sport brand that we want to highlight to consumers.”
See more information on this subject via CarAdvice.com.au and Motoring.com.au.