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Brand Building: Making Culture a Pillar of Your Dealership

There are many “big brands” that are leading the way in the marketplace by getting consumers’ attention and making them feel appreciated, understood, and engaged. It’s safe to say the brands that are getting noticed have a vision that motivates when it comes to tapping into shopper needs.

Even without being a big brand, automotive dealerships can still be a big deal with consumers by following many of the same branding tricks used throughout the marketplace. Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom have become top businesses in their markets by defining key components of business as staples of their brand cultures. In both companies, engaged employees and superb customer journeys work together to support a unique culture that leads to a thriving business model. Check out these big brands and their cultural pillars to see what you can do to boost your dealership’s curb appeal.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has paved its own way in the airline industry. Though they have always received recognition for their unmatchable employee benefits, open passenger seating, no baggage fees, and low-cost flights, they have also created a distinct personality through their stellar staff. Southwest’s purpose is to provide outstanding service combined with an employee-driven culture that is recognized industry-wide, making them a preferred carrier for many.

Consumers are drawn to Southwest because of their fun and quirky reputation. For example, Flight Attendants work together to sing and act out safety demonstrations, often calming anxious flyers and entertaining others. Their fun-loving reputation is largely due to their dedication to seeking out employees that fit best with the company culture. Their hiring process includes proactively questioning candidates on their motivators, attitudes toward others, work ethic, and team enthusiasm. Hiring people who possess these indicating qualities and fit the brand culture makes for a positive workplace environment with highly productive and engaged employees.

Takeaway: Be dedicated to recruiting and hiring the best employees. This means taking the time to get to know candidates so you can decide if they are a true fit for the culture of you dealership, rather than just fitting the job qualifications.


Nordstrom is not just about buying fashion—their culture is centered on helping customers possess style. For more than 100 years, they have offered trusted advice as a leading fashion industry retailer. They have turned fashion into a way to serve by being committed to optimism, attentiveness, and appreciation.

They are set apart in their industry by the intricate thought put into their customer service procedures, and the focus is customer-based from the moment a customer enters the store to the moment he or she leaves. The employees give friendly and helpful advice, carry items for customers, and always have a smile on their faces. Examples of exceptional Nordstrom customer service include salespeople walking customers to an item instead of pointing to it and answering the phone on no more than 2 rings. Going out of their way to reduce traditional shopper “pain points,” they are breaking away from the pack in terms of customer service.

Nordstrom is considered high-end for many people, but because of their customer experience focus, they don’t have to pretend to have the best prices around. People are more than willing to pay a little more for a product if it means exceptional service along the way, which is an applicable principle to every industry.

Takeaway: Make strict and specific customer service guidelines and assure every employee knows how to execute them. Doing this will drastically improve your dealership’s customer satisfaction rating and keep them coming back for more.

Businesses that have a strong handle on brand culture thrive in their market, even with hefty competition. Like Southwest and Nordstrom, if your dealership bases every decision, such as hiring and customer service, off of a unique and clearly defined culture, it will gain the attention of the community is serves.

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