Marketing and advertising insights for automotive suppliers

Detroit is Becoming a Tech Mecca. Is Your Automotive OEM Supplier’s Brand Keeping Up?

Detroit is Becoming a Tech Mecca. Is Your Automotive OEM Supplier’s Brand Keeping Up?

How a brand audit can keep you up with the times.

Detroit most of Michigan, really – has long been the capital of the American automotive industry and where many automotive-related companies are located. Though other U.S. markets have an automotive presence – with assembly plants, R&D facilities, and automotive OEM suppliers – Michigan remains the country’s automotive hotbed, and it doesn’t look like it will change anytime soon.

But Detroit – known more as a manufacturing mecca – is changing gears. Gradually but emphatically, the city is becoming a tech mecca, too.

What does Michigan have that’s helping make this shift happen? 

Michigan has talent, lots and lots of the right talent.

Automotive research, design, engineering, testing and vehicle validation is done in more than 2,000 Michigan facilities. Sixteen of the world’s top automotive brands are either headquartered in Michigan or have a significant presence. Many have built significant technology centers in Michigan. Lots and lots of people who know what they’re doing in automotive are doing it in Michigan.

Automotive’s support structure is in Michigan, too.

More than 60% of all automotive suppliers that feed OEMs the parts and services they need to build the vehicles they sell are in Michigan. 

Michigan is engineering heaven. The state has the most mechanical engineers and industrial engineers, with more and more being schooled in the discipline. Every year, more than 6,000 students graduate from the state’s 20 nationally ranked undergraduate engineering programs.

(Detroit is also getting commercially diverse. Quicken Loans is headquartered in Detroit, and Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Twitter all have a corporate presence. Uber and Lyft both test self-driving vehicles on Michigan public roads.)

Already, the future of automotive is happening in Michigan.

The state ranks first for connected and autonomous vehicle projects, as well as in mobility-related patents.

What can automotive OEM suppliers do to keep up in the tech mecca that Detroit is fast becoming? A brand adjustment, that’s what.

The first step in a great brand adjustment is some good brand discovery. Wait just a minute, you think. You already have a brand, so what’s to discover? If your brand hasn’t been evaluated in five or ten years, it may be time to do some brand soul searching. Ask yourself, “How have we changed? What do we do different/better/worse than we did it five or ten years ago? Does our logo look like we’re a company that’s tech savvy or stuck in the ‘90s? Is the rest of our brand essence – colors, type, visuals and, most importantly, messaging – as contemporary as it needs to be? Is your website optimized, responsive, current in its programming?

For potential new clients, your brand could very well be the first thing they encounter. Is the best first impression being made?

Brand Positioning

Ernie Perich

As the owner and creative director of Perich Advertising + Design for more than 30 years, Ernie knows a thing or two about automotive marketing. He combines brand strategy with smart creative to help automotive suppliers strike a nerve. Contact

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