Toyota's Prius to become its own brand.

Toyota's Prius to become its own brand.

I don’t consider myself much of a car nut. I certainly don’t own any fancy cars. But being a guy, I do like cars and I find myself gravitating toward news about cars. And while I like to drive, I hate buying gas and the ever-increasing guilt associated with it. That and some interesting marketing news is why two related pieces caught my attention this morning.

Yesterday Micheline Maynard of the New York Times“Green Inc.” blog wrote that Toyota is considering making the Prius its own brand. Apparently Toyota had previously tried to create a brand around the hybrid synergy drive, the technology behind the hybrid system, but that didn’t work out so well. But because of the Prius’ reported 75% of the hybrid market share, its pretty much become its own brand all by itself.

Obviously they asked themselves the question: “Why create a brand when your customers have already identified one for you?” It’s an analog example of a product going viral. I can certainly relate. As marketers, we often struggle to identify the big seller or the next new brand while completely missing the fact that our customers have already done that for us.

The other interesting news came to me via Motor Authority, reporting that “Lexus will likely become a hybrid-only brand.” Apparently the Lexus hybrids have been so popular that Toyota, Lexus’ parent company, feels confident about fast-tracking the change.

With used Priuses going for more than new ones and a J.D. Power and Associates European survey ranking the Prius as the “most satisfying vehicle to drive,” I say it’s about time. While I’d love to go for a gas-sipping compact hybrid, I’ve got kids and dogs to cart around in a mountainous region that sees snow on the ground for six months of the year. Bring on the hybrid cross-over!