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dmi:Design Value Award Winner - Hyundai Design Center
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dmi:Design Value Award Winner




Design Strategy Influences Company Strategy & Market Performance

Hyundai Motor Co - Hyundai Design Center - Strategy, Branding


This project is about building a design strategy and the story of two brands—Hyundai and Genesis. Genesis started as a premium model under the Hyundai brand, but in 2015 it was announced as a separate luxury brand. The public-oriented Hyundai and the luxury-oriented Genesis had significantly different goals to achieve, and a new design strategy was required to differentiate design identity and enhance the value of each brand. The company believed that a strong design strategy would rebuild Hyundai's design identity and could bring a new identity for Genesis. Today, two distinct identities are now recognizable from concept to production models.

Initially, Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus were given new names in the new Genesis brand. After three years, brand recognition and sales numbers showed that Genesis still lacked an identity. In contrast, Hyundai was a successful volume brand, well known for its reasonable prices and good quality. The wide range in its product line-up was helpful in spreading the brand globally. But its “Family-Look” strategy made its models look too much alike and difficult to promote individually.

Differentiation in design begins with a unique design strategy, and the organization gave carte blanche to redesigning the Genesis from scratch. The goal was to introduce a new concept of Korean luxury marked by dynamism and youthful spirit. The design philosophy of the Genesis was to distill brand DNA into a car with “Athletic Elegance.” The emphasis for Hyundai was on the diversity of its product line-up. Customer desires, lifestyle, and unmet cultural needs informed each model’s unique design. By playing with shape and style elements, Hyundai has a broad design spectrum to accommodate different customer lifestyles.

Genesis has achieved record-breaking sales (65% more than the previous record) since the implementation of strategic design. The diversification of Hyundai’s line-up is also making a large impact while sustaining its look and identity. Avante (Elantra) sales doubled compared to last year with the launch of the fully changed model, and Grandeur (Azera) sales have topped sales charts for seven consecutive months.

Having a strong design strategy has motivated the design teams, boosted automotive economics, and helped reinforce a progressive design culture within both brands. Genesis’ identity strives for designs that emotionally connect with customers at all levels through their perfect athletic proportions, precise craftsmanship, and attention to every detail. Hyundai’s identity pursues a design process that respects the originality, character, and characteristics of each vehicle. It ensures that the company always offers customers design values that include both functionality and aesthetics.

Recently, people's living space has been defined as being comprised of three places: house, workplace, and car. The globalization of the megacity has increased the importance of cars in everyday life—a car is no longer solely a means of functional transportation, but a means of living tailored to an individual’s lifestyle. More recently, a paradigm shift in mobility industries—such as autonomous driving, artificial intelligence, robotics, and shared economy— has brought a tremendous change to people's lifestyles. Hyundai believes that it should provide a new strategic direction for brand design that can envision the future. Hyundai and Genesis designs evolve not only styling changes, but also how the design can contribute socially as well as present a vision for the future ahead.

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