Bright Lights Project: Volvo

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I remember my parents’ two Volvos in the early 70s; a little wagon and a 4-door “sports sedan” shaped like a child had drawn their outlines. Narrow rectangular boxes with another box attached on the middle for the cabin. They were cool and Yuppie before Yuppies knew who they were.

Then the brand kinda got lost, surfacing in the 90s and early 00s as “the safe cars.” They’d improved, somewhat, but sacrificed both styling and handling to what I understood to be more airbags than a zeppelin, rollbars made out of kryptonite, and whatever.

Then the company went missing, subsumed into Ford in 1999 and treated like a foreign-speaking stepchild. Now it’s free again, having been bought by China’s Geely Motors in 2010, and has announced plans to reassert its safety positioning as it tries to rev up sales around the world.

You can imagine the branding pitches getting thrown at Volvo. Lots of make-work for its staff to determine the nuance, epistemology, and atomic structure of the brand, while agency creative types are busy coming up with ways to occupy people on YouTube, and build a unique social community built on parents talking about safety with their kids. Or something.

I happen to think Volvo deserves better, and it’s a brand for which I have a lot of affection. So let’s give ’em something worth their consideration; send me your ideas for how the brand should reintroduce itself to the cosmos, and I’ll either ditch my ideas below or get them up to snuff to include with yours.

Here are my starter thoughts for Volvo if it really wants to own safety:

Own driving school fleets. If the cars are really that safe, don’t we want our numbnut teenagers driving them? It’s not cool or sexy, but isn’t it sort of like Apple making sure all those educational computers were Macs? Maybe if you learn on a Volvo you stick with one? It would clearly associate the brand with safety, at a minimum.

Negotiate better insurance rates. Would it be possible to get special dispensation on car insurance policies for Volvos? Again, if they’re truly safer, what would it take to get the biggies to give Volvos a better rate than other vehicles in their classes? Maybe it could simply be some stipend that Volvo pays to insurance companies to lower the rate of insuring its cars?

Create accident maps. Certain intersections and stretches of road are notorious for frequent accidents in my neighborhood, and I’m sure it’s true for any area. I have a mental map that is imperfect, so I sometimes avoid the worst spots. Maybe Volvo could compile this database (social media project?) and provide it to everyone. Perhaps it could create it as an add-on to various GPS devices so drivers could be automatically routed around them?

Like I said, these are just starter ideas. Let me know what you think, I’ll compile our ideas, and then submit them to Volvo.

(Image credit: Volvo)

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