Automakers work very hard at the branding process, which takes years and years of effort to achieve. For instance, when a consumer hears Porsche, he or she likely sthink of sports cars and iconic design principles -- despite the fact that the German brand sells plenty of SUVs, too. And when a brand starts to get a negative image, it can take years to overcome that bad stigma -- just ask Ford. So, with all of this in mind, Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2008 Brand Image Awards, which are based on consumer perception studies of which KBB keeps track.

The big winners this year are Toyota for "Best Overall Interior Design", BMW for "Best Overall Exterior Design" and Mercedes-Benz for "Best Overall Prestige Brand". We would have expected Audi to do well in the interior design category, but these awards are not based on reality, but perception instead. For a complete run-down of the awards, we've included the press release after the break.

[Source: Kelley Blue Book]


PRESS RELEASE

Kelley Blue Book Announces Winners of 2008 Brand Image Awards

Awards Honor Top New-Auto Brands Based on Consumer Perception Data from KBB
Marketing Research

Kelley Blue Book, the leading provider of new- and used-vehicle
information, today announced the winners of the 2008 Kelley Blue Book Brand
Image Awards. The Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards recognize automakers'
outstanding achievements in creating and maintaining brand attributes that
capture the attention and enthusiasm of the new-vehicle buying public.

The 2008 Brand Image Awards are based on consumer automotive perception
data from Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research's Brand Watch study. Brand
Watch is an online brand perception tracking study tapping into 12,000+
in-market new-vehicle shoppers annually on kbb.com. The highly
comprehensive Brand Watch report provides a detailed look at in-market
new-vehicle shoppers' perceptions of brands, and important factors driving
their purchase decisions while they are in the midst of the shopping
process. The results of an entire year of Brand Watch research and consumer
opinions determine the 2008 Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Award winners.

Kelley Blue Book handed out 17 awards to automotive brands in the
following categories during a gala event this evening amidst the
festivities of the New York International Auto Show Media Preview Week in
New York City:



KELLEY BLUE BOOK'S 2008 BRAND IMAGE AWARDS

Best Interior Design -- Non-Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: Toyota
Best Interior Design -- Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: Lexus
Best Interior Design -- Sports Car/Convertible: Mercedes-Benz
Best Interior Design -- Truck: Chevrolet
Best Interior Design -- Non-Luxury SUV: Toyota
Best Interior Design -- Luxury SUV: Lexus
Best Interior Design -- Minivan: Honda

Best Exterior Design -- Non-Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: Chrysler
Best Exterior Design -- Luxury Sedan/Coupe/Hatchback: BMW
Best Exterior Design -- Sports Car/Convertible: Porsche
Best Exterior Design -- Truck: Chevrolet
Best Exterior Design -- Non-Luxury SUV: Ford
Best Exterior Design -- Luxury SUV: Mercedes-Benz
Best Exterior Design -- Minivan: Toyota

Best Overall Interior Design: Toyota
Best Overall Exterior Design: BMW
Best Overall Prestige Brand: Mercedes-Benz

"The Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards honor the automakers that
stand out in the ongoing heated battle for consumer perception," said Rick
Wainschel, vice president of marketing research and brand communications
for Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. "While specific vehicle models may come
and go over the years, the power of the brand is lasting in the minds of
consumers."

The most prestigious honors from Brand Watch include Best Interior and
Exterior Styling, as well as Best Overall Prestige Brand. Based on the
results of the Brand Watch study, consumers rated Mercedes-Benz as Best
Overall Prestige Brand. With the company's long history of combining rich
interiors with distinguished exterior styling, the brand is known not only
as a preeminent luxury automaker, but also one of the foremost luxury
brands in the world.

BMW captured the award for having Best Overall Exterior Design. Its
once-controversial new designs are now winning legions of fans, and the
company has maintained a family resemblance across the board while allowing
each model to take the design theme in a slightly different direction.
Toyota garnered Best Overall Interior Design with its vehicles' simple,
familiar and consistently gratifying fit, finish and materials used across
its vehicle line-up.

"Understanding brand perception is important to gauging vehicle value,"
said Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and executive market
analyst of Kelley Blue Book and kbb.com. "Because brand is so important to
consumers as they decide which vehicles they are considering and,
ultimately, what vehicles they will buy, it is important to study their
perceptions of various brands, the attributes that contribute to those
perceptions, and how those perceptions shift over time."