what if we let the product do the talking?
“utterly bonkers” – Anthony Karr, journalist
“it does make you feel utterly alive.” – Chris Harris, race driver
“the British luxury brand’s most intense and exhilarating creation to date” – Aston Martin
you probably deduced by now that what we are talking about is a car. and you might have noticed that we are not discussing just any ol’ regular roadster, either. it’s the beauty and the beast brought together under the same hardtop. ladies and gentlemen, let’s chat a bit about the Aston Martin Vulcan.
up until this year, I would have called myself a moderate car enthusiast. my love for automobiles was purely sentimental: I loved my family’s old Pontiac Grand Am from back in the ’90s, because Romania’s post-communist times didn’t have so many American cars. that made the Pontiac truly special. I appreciated the Dacias that followed for their reliability and getting me around whenever I wanted. but my respect and appreciation for the automotive industry reached a whole other level when I got introduced to the Aston Martin Vulcan (on a personal level, owning a roaring Miata and having a partner who wants to break into the motorsports industry also helped a bit in expanding my passion).
right off the bat: this car is amazing.
I mean, just listen to this:
the hypercar designed to eat tarmac on racing tracks has seen the light of day for the first time in 2015. there are only 24 models in the whole world, each car being priced at $2.3 million. British race driver, Chris Harris from Top Gear, has been smitten with the raw driving experience of the Vulcan. he magnificently lays out this car’s product story during one of the show’s episodes, justifying the hype around this track phenomenon:
“this is the Aston Martin Vulcan, named in honor of Britain’s legendary Cold-War bomber, which is quite a bold name to give a car. the Vulcan, after all, was one of our finest engineering feats of the 20th century. calling your car Vulcan is like naming your child Ace or Elvis. it’s got a lot to live up to.” cue the roaring, thunderous sound of the V12 engine, parading on the famous Abu Dhabi race track.
“the Vulcan is the fastest, most powerful, most extreme Aston Martin that was ever built”, concludes Chris Harris, while trying to talk into the camera at a speed of 320 kph or 200 mph.
two main points fascinate me about this supercar.
- its evident power and prowess;
- its story.
if you search for articles, videos, or just chats about the Aston Martin Vulcan, there are two main emotions that prevail: awe and giddy-excitement. whether you’ll catch engineers talking about the loud V12 engine (which was created, by the way, by putting 2 old Ford Mondeo engines together), car fans who say how much they love the roar and fury of the car, or people who just see and hear the Vulcan for the first time – those two feelings come directly from the gut in each case. they instinctively take over. even if you are not a fan of loud cars, subconsciously, you will react in the same way you would if you saw a great, roaring, gorgeous beast in front of you (minus the immediate life-threatening danger part). all of this helps make the first contact with the Aston Martin supercar a deeply somatic, memorable moment.
what also helped in further developing the product story is adding strategic, relevant story layers to the product itself. the Aston Martin branding team did not only have what to work with from a purely physical perspective (thinking about the car and its specs), but they could also create an even bigger story around it. the iconic motor craftsmanship is the perfect example in this case. high-performing engine, like the V12, are almost expected on race-ready cars like this one. but what makes the Vulcan engine so special is that it embodies the idea of technological innovation from a different angle. instead of hyping up a futuristic innovation effort, it goes back to the basics and embraces a “working-with-what-you-have” mentality – a truly British attitude. like I mentioned earlier, the Vulcan V12 is actually a rethought frankensteinian combination of two V6 engines, taken from 1990s Ford Mondeo cars. being able to say that the most powerful Aston Martin car is powered by “leftovers from two old family saloons”, as Chris Harris put it, makes for a great story.
the words used around the product are also important in creating the product story. first, to get to the product, you must go through its nomenclature, which, in the case of the Aston Martin Vulcan, gives the car an iconic aura. but the strategic word use doesn’t stop there.
for example, one of the most commonly used phrases for the Aston Martin Vulcan (the custom road edition) is “road-legal”. the constant repetition of this idea has two main effects on people. firstly, the supercar generates an arousal feeling in the brain. this stimulus is similar to the one sparked by cigarette warning labels, which was found to excite the craving part of the brain, rather than repel the smoker. the reasoning behind this phenomenon is that the underlying message (that engaging with this experience is dangerous, exhilarating, and adrenaline-packed) actually presents itself as intriguing to the person. the “road-legal” positioning describes the driving experience concisely and effectively in this direction. it primes you to crave for just a little (or a lot) of danger. especially those with a bad-boy bone in their body respond positively to this feeling, either via brand fascination or even by ultimately purchasing such a car. another frequently-used term for the Aston Martin Vulcan is “supercar” or “hypercar”. this prompts you to understand that what you will experience with this car will not be your average cruise, but a super-drive – something special and out of the ordinary. these are just some of the clever word pairings that confer this particular meaning to the Vulcan brand.
speaking of which, we need to talk about the most important puzzle piece in this brand success story. the best part about the Vulcan brand is that nothing seems out of place. the product’s performance, the design, and, of course, the product narrative, all make sense. the Vulcan, on its own, could tell a story that fully encompasses and embodies the Aston Martin experience. advertising professionals wouldn’t need much to create hype around the product. that is because the Vulcan is the living example of a great story – simply from it being built in the spirit of the company culture and brand.
when you digest the full Vulcan identity, you can understand the brilliance of the Aston Martin branding team. with this product, they successfully accessed all three layers of the human brain – the instinctual, emotional, and rational sides, aka the reptilian complex, limbic system, and the neocortex. thus, they managed to create an iconic, hard-to-forget brand.
which makes me wonder: when was the last time that a product left such an impression on you? or better yet, has a product, any product on the market, made you feel as much as the Vulcan?
here is a trickier question: what about your product? what narrative does your creation tell on its own?
your story, of course, doesn’t need to be laced with adrenaline or craziness like in the case of the Vulcan. the advantage that the supercar has consists in it being a car – thus, the beast on wheels easily engages all the senses, and is an experience in itself. but every product has a purpose and owns a storyline. your product’s story might be quieter, more comforting, like a sweet bedtime tale. or maybe it is bold, adventurous, and full of moments of bravery.
every story serves a purpose. this also applies to your product’s development, or it should.
after watching the Aston Martin Vulcan in action, even if just online, I can say that the British company has found a new fan in me. if you fall in love with this car and its story, will you be more prone to loving Aston Martin as well, as a brand? yes, yes you will. welcome to the club! and now check how you can inspire the same story power in your product and brand.