The results of the latest Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch Study have been compiled, and the results are posted in the 2022 Brand Image Awards. These awards are intended to highlight not just the carmakers who have sold the most vehicles, but to showcase brands that “excite and attract new shoppers”.

The results are compiled based on responses from over 12,000 vehicle shoppers annually on KBB.com and focus on customer perception rather than sales data. Three brands were recognized as the top overall brands in their segment – Honda, Tesla, and Toyota.

Vanessa Ton is the senior industry intelligence manager at Kelley Blue Book. She said in the press release, “Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Award winners lead the pack when it comes to capturing new-car shoppers’ attention. As more automotive brands and new models arrive on the scene each year, the increasingly crowded marketplace provides fresh challenges for product designers and planners and marketers alike. The battle for market share starts with perception and consideration among shoppers, so these winners epitomize which brands are most successful in making a positive impact on their target audience for 2022.”

Brand Image Award winners

Honda captured the Best Overall brand title for the sixth time in nine years with the highest score among non-luxury brands, taking the top rank in reputation, fuel efficiency, technology, and interior layout. As well as the overall title, Honda received honors as the Most Refined Brands and Beset Value Brand this year. Subaru also received awards for Best Performance Brand and Most Trusted Brand.

In the pickup truck segment, Toyota reigned supreme once again. This is the fourth consecutive year Toyota took the truck title for Best Overall Truck Brand, and much of their success has been credited to the new Tundra.

The Best Overall Luxury Brand has been awarded to Tesla for the third year in a row. Respondents also gave a nod to Tesla for Best Value Luxury brand and Most Refined Luxury Brand. Lexus is the Most Trusted Luxury brand while Porsche takes the title for luxury styling and performance.

Domestic brand recognition nearly non-existent

Dodge received accolades as Best Styling Brand for 2022, continually portraying an athletic style with throwbacks to the muscle car era. Aside from the one recognition, domestic brands were noticeably absent from the awards, especially the Big Three that have worked endlessly on image. Even with models like the new Bronco and Mustang Mach-E from Ford, a hard turn toward electric at General Motors, and a shift in business model by Stellantis, cracking into the Brand Image Awards wasn’t to be this year.

However, German luxury models also missed the mark in consumers’ eyes this year with no mention of BMW or Mercedes-Benz. The exception is Porsche, who was noted as the Best Performance Luxury Brand and Best Styling Luxury Brand this year.

Correlation with brand loyalty

The 2022 KBB Brand Image Awards roughly correlate with the findings from the J.D. Power US Automotive Brand Loyalty Study released in July 2021. Brands that were recognized for the most loyal customers were the highest ranked in brand image as well.

Subaru, Honda, and Toyota have the highest overall brand loyalty among mass-market brands, meaning consecutive repeat sales of the same brand. Tesla was not included in the study, but Lexus and Porsche are one-two finishers in the luxury segment.

The similarities are striking. For carmakers, it would appear that finding their way into the top Brand Image Award performers would be an excellent way to achieve better loyalty among their buyers.

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