Identity (Part 1)


This series on identity was originally posted in October 2006, prior to many visitors coming to this site.

As I’m away this week, I thought it might be relevant, especially in light of a new 9-3 being released and a new brand-defining 9-5 on the way. Saab’s identity as a niche car-maker is one of it’s traits as one of those ‘cult’ companies (pardon the expression, Andy). Many have thought that that unique identity has been watered down in recent years.

This series sought to examine the subject.


These are not my words. But they do represent many of my feelings.

This is how Saab see you.

– Dynamic, well educated individualists

– A high sense of integrity and keen sense of design

– Insightful, connoisseur-like mentality

– Lead multifaceted lives and dare to challenge the status quo

– Look for beyond-the-obvious status symbols

– Value originality and authenticity

Looking beyond the obvious
Saab users see themselves as smart, independent thinkers with a strong sense of integrity and confidence in their own values. When asked about what is important to them, they talk about originality, creativity and a keen sense of aesthestics.

Having a connoisseur mentality
Although they would never boldly state it, they regard themselves as connoisseurs of good taste. They look behind surfaces to find hidden nuances in life, demonstrating their curiosity as well as an interest in the arts. They tend to have less need for social approval than others.

Avoiding labels or typecasting
Despite being brand literate, Saab users reject conventional status symbols in what amounts to a kind of reverse snobbery. Their codes and behaviour are complex since they don’t like to be labelled, and so they gravitate towards understated status symbols.

Valuing substance, not flattery
Saab users see themselves as embracing brands that have integrity and soul. They are aware of the values and philosophies behind products and brands; appreciate bold new ideas; are advertising-literate; and demand substance, not flattery. They resist typecasting because they go their own way and are hard to pigeonhole into a certain lifestyle.

Making a statement – with understatement
Saab drivers are perceived as being artistic, cultivated and individualistic. In most markets, the very choice of a Saab is regarded as out of the ordinary. It is definitely a premium statement, but considered an alternative to the usual brands.

Living a full life
Despite juggling a wide range of activities, Saab drivers are regarded as the kind of people who always manage to pull things together with grace and poise. While they may raise a few eyebrows by doing things a bit differently, they make others wish they’d thought of such a solution themselves.


Our customers want cars that balance many needs and fit into their multifaceted lives.

A richer, more balanced approach to life
Like never before, Saab customers lead complex, fast-paced multifaceted lives. They refuse to compromise when it comes to careers, families and challenging activities. Well-educated and young at heart – with multiple interests – they are the kind of people who want to participate actively in life, to savour its many flavours and detect subtle nuances. They want freedom and excitement, as well as practical solutions. Faced with a choice between A and B, they are likely to choose both.

Cars that fit right in
Sporty yet highly functional, Saab cars bridge the gap between the user’s emotional wants and rational needs. Our aim is to eliminate the need to compromise. Leap across conventional car categories. Let people push life to the extreme.


What you’ve been reading is Saab’s own view of you, the Saab owner.

This is how they see their market and the final paragraph makes a brief case for how they must respond – in their own words.

Yesterday I wrote my thoughts on the current 9-5. Some agreed and some pointed out the practicalities of car design and manufacture, which by necessity is a long process. If you’re interested, I’d invite you to ponder the words above and how they relate to you (if at all). Their implications.

Then think some more about the upcoming 9-5, which as a flagship for the brand, must be the embodiment of Saab’s effort to “eliminate the need to compromise”.


The passages above appear in a book called “The Saab Brand”.

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  1. I think those statements are exactly what Saab drivers are and what Saab should go for.

    Too bad GM pretty much thinks the opposite of each of those.

  2. Anybody can do a market survey and write nice words.

    What hits the pavement represents the actual thoughts and expectations.

    And in that regard they’re disappointing us.

  3. Well, let me first say that I like Saabs of all types. The current models seem, to me, to be fine cars. If I were the type to be looking for a new car, the Saab dealership would be on the list, for sure.

    I like the spirit of the C900 and 9000 models because I believe they offered cars which did, by and large, eliminate the need to compromise. I’d seriously consider replacing my 9000 Aero with a Viggen, 9-5SC Aero, or 9-3SC (The 9-3SS would seem small to me, after the 9000).

    My question(s) to Saab(GM): If you know your customer so well, why does it seem that you haven’t let this knowledge guide the prgression of the cars you design? Why don’t 9-5’s and 9-3’s stand out on the road like every Saab built, up to and including the C900? (Don’t get me wrong, I do think that Saabs are distinctive, but less so than they used to be.)

    My 9000 Aero never fails to impress people, gear heads or not. Saab design has been, and MUST continue to be understated AND bold, never looking like “The other guys.” It seems to me that the description of the Saab owner given above is pretty good (for a generalized collection of thoughts). I think that there is the potential for the next generation of Saabs to reflect the aforementioned philosophy more than the current line.

    People who fall into this “typical Saab owner” catagory are not people who fall for gimmicks, but people who appreciate quality and thoughtfulness above image. GM must let Saab stand unique among its platform brothers, and must provide a world-class product rivaling everyone else in terms of quality and ingenuity. Saab has a history of being ahead of its time, what with the turbo-4, night panel, aerodynamics, heated seats, safety, etc. etc… I certainly hope that Saab is given enough independence and resources ($) to remain the thinking man’s Sport Sedan.

    I still don’t understand why Saabs are so under-rated. How many cars out there provide the owner with more-than-sufficient cargo space, acceleration and handling that is more than adequate for public-road use, comfortable cruising amenities (seats/cabin), AND, return great gas mileage? Most cars faster than an Aero Saab are too thirsty. Most cars with more space or which are more comfortable handle like boats.

    I’m just rambling on and on… sorry.

  4. Sounds like they got me down pretty well.

    I really like this bit:
    “Faced with a choice between A and B, they are likely to choose both.”

  5. Well, they left me out, they forgot about the “lunatic factor.”
    From The Spirit of Saab, Rolf Bleeker, page 93:
    “A Saab is not simply a car. If the Saab was simply a car, it would not have survived the two-stroke era in the USA. So how did Saab manage to survive? The answer is the ‘lunatic factor’, difficult to define, but not to be underrated.
    The Drivers of that time were just as lunatic as the cars. Two similar personalities sought for and found each other, human being and car. The lunatic Saab drivers could be recognized by the way they walked down the street: the absent-minded professors with their shoes unfastened, their shoe laces trailing behind, their thoughts in a different world, their minds floating above all things mundane.”

  6. Sorry, but i find that a load of nauseating tat dreamt up by some overpaid advertising exec or personnel recruitment drone.

  7. Nothing here about how good-looking I am. Not even a mention of my cooking skills or my ribbons for swimming in primary school. Outrage!

  8. I’m afraid that GM has decided that the traditional SAAB demographic is not numerous enough to sustain a car company. If you only sold SAABs to individuals who fit the demographic described in that book you’re going to run out of customers pretty darned fast.

    SAAB seems to now be tailoring their cars’ design more to the BMW and AUDI demographic.

  9. A Saab owner must also have lots of money, and like to spend it.

    I got diagnosed a faulty fuel meter sender and resirc motor. It will cost me around 1500 euro to fix these issues.

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