Driving lessons

Written by David Menzies

That candy-apple red convertible is certainly a head-turner and goes like stink, but could driving it be a big business blunder? Just like your clothes, your car says something about who you are — and what your company represents. With that in mind, PROFIT asked consumer psychologist Dr. Charles T. Kenny, president of Memphis-based Kenny & Associates Inc. and a past consultant to Nissan and General Motors, to select the vehicles that best project some desirable business traits.

THE INNOVATOR: Porsche Cayenne

“The Cayenne breaks out of the traditional position that Porsche holds in people’s minds, because it is an SUV and not a sports car. This is representative of Porsche thinking outside the Boxster, and for an SUV it really does stand out as something distinctive.”


“The Rolls-Royce isn’t the best car. But to convey exclusivity and country-club cachet, there is nothing you can buy that will do it better than a Rolls-Royce. It’s a driver’s limousine.”

THE LONG-TERM PARTNER: Chevrolet full-size pickup

“This vehicle conveys the idea that you are a stable, reliable person that can do anything. Look at the Chevrolet truck theme: ‘Like a Rock.’ What could be more stable than that in terms of the relationship between the supplier and the client?”

THE RELIABLE SUPPLIER: Mercedes-Benz S420 or S500

“You want the cars of about six or seven years ago, when they were more square and less rounded off. Since they rounded off the lines, these cars have blended in with the Lexuses and Acuras out there. But with these older models [produced from 1992 to 1999], you are making a real statement about stability and longevity.”


“Volvo’s brand promises, ‘Buy this car and you’ll be a lot safer than if driving anything else.’ It comes pretty close to saying ‘social responsibility.’ It’s about being concerned with the safety of your customer.”

FUN, FUN, FUN: Mini Cooper

“It has taken the country by storm. This is really going against the bigger-is-better trend — it’s funky, youthful, fun-loving. Even the colors are cheery and different.”

© 2004 David Menzies

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