A green 2019 Subaru Forester is shown driving in snow.

Branding for Adventure: What Makes a Subaru a Subaru

Any business students, marketers, business owners, or social media influencers who may be reading this are likely familiar with the term brand identity. Of course, this term refers to the aesthetic, personality, and image through which a brand presents itself to customers and the public at large. Every leading vehicle brand has its own brand identity, but it is hard to think of a brand that has crafted an identity as specific and identifiable as Subaru. Some vehicle brands cast the nets of their lineup much wider; take Chevy, for instance: it has sedans, sports cars, SUVs, trucks, vans, and just about everything.

Therefore, Chevy’s brand identity exists in a broader, more general sense. For instance, if you took the logos off the cars, somebody who is not a car enthusiast may not be able to tell the difference between a Chevy Malibu and a Honda Civic. But you know a Subaru when you see one. You don’t need the logo, and you don’t even need to be a car enthusiast. Take a stroll through a Subaru dealership, and you’ll definitely see similarities in all the vehicles. Subaru knows what they are, they know how to make it, and they know how to keep drivers coming back. What’s in Subaru’s brand identity?

What Is Subaru’s Brand Identity?

Before we establish what’s in it, let’s establish what that brand identity is. Subarus are undeniably made for adventure, flexibility, athleticism, and outdoor activity, but with a hint of sportiness. There’s something about the way the brand crafts a compact SUV that communicates a sense of readiness to explore. Perhaps it is due in part to the compact nature of Subaru’s vehicles, even the larger ones; the architecture of each Subaru feels as though it is ducking, perhaps to clear an obstacle. While the vehicles provide the same generous interior space you’d hope to find in any SUV, they all share the same adventurous exterior look. Of course, this brand identity is present not only in the looks but also in the way the vehicles drive. Subarus have a special, tactile way of driving that separates them from other vehicles on the market. Let’s start there.

A red 2022 Subaru WRX is shown from the rear at an angle near a river after leaving a Subaru dealership.

Exceptional Handling

Handling is a word that doesn’t necessarily come up a lot, especially to non-enthusiasts, when considering a vehicle. Many drivers tend to focus on less direct aspects of performance, like horsepower and torque. These specifications affect performance, of course, but don’t pertain as directly to the experience of driving.

Subaru is all about handling. For example, every Subaru sedan and SUV comes standard with Symmetrical all-wheel drive. Standard AWD is, in itself, something to get excited about, but the word “symmetrical” is key to understanding the excellence of Subaru’s specific system. Symmetrical AWD includes active torque split. In other words, the system includes sensors to monitor the vehicle’s performance in real-time and sends torque where it is most needed. Rather than telling the road (or the trail) how it will perform, which can easily end in failure, Symmetrical AWD lets the road (or the trail) tell it how to perform best.

The result of this is handling fit for the environment at hand, meaning an easier, safer, and more engaged drive. However, that is not all. Most Subaru models now include a driver-selectable X-MODE. This special addition to the Symmetrical all-wheel drive system is designed to make the vehicle even more off-road-ready. What does this look like more practically?

When this button-activated system kicks it into gear, it controls the engine output, AWD torque split, and transmission to make sure you can tackle even the most difficult of terrains, including steep ascents and descents. What better vehicle is there in which to tackle a tricky ascent than a Subaru Ascent. Haha…no? Nobody?

Subaru’s brand identity of adventure is written right into its performance and handling. But you don’t have to drive a Subaru to recognize how a Subaru drives. Why are they still so recognizable, even for those who don’t drive Subarus? It’s that iconic design, of course.

Iconic Design

What is it about the Subaru design that makes it so recognizable? As we established before, the signature compact architecture has much to do with it. Many Subaru models communicate adventure through the rooftop rails, indicating that they’re ready to carry a heavy load for a camping trip, a canoeing adventure, or a cross-country skiing excursion. But, the color schemes are also a huge part of what communicates this adventurous identity.

Subaru tends to use colors that remind us of the elements. There is a strong focus on faded greens, browns, and blues. Sometimes even oranges and reds. This reminds us of forests, trails, bodies of water, autumn leaves, or whatever specific landscape may come to mind for you. Color has a profound effect on the human psyche. There is a time and a place for bright, shiny color schemes, but Subaru knows the purpose of its vehicles and how to direct us toward that purpose. Subaru color schemes tend to stir up thoughts of the outdoors, feelings of adventure, and a desire to explore.

Of course, the vehicles’ interiors also communicate this and provide the tools necessary for such adventures and excursions. The 2023 Ascent, for example, offers a passenger volume of 153.2 cu.ft. (which is seriously an amazing number), and a maximum cargo volume of 75.6 cu.ft. The Ascent is designed to keep passengers comfortable for long periods of time, such as on a road trip, or to accommodate larger loads of cargo, the kind you would take for a camping trip or a road trip.

Within that generous interior space, Subarus have a strong focus on weather-resistant material. The recently-introduced Wilderness edition, which is available for several Subaru models, offers StarTex upholstery on its seats. This is designed to combat whatever elements may have stuck to you (water, mud, etc.) during your time outside the vehicle. Subaru also includes technology to help aid your adventures. Systems like Subaru StarLink equip you with navigation and connectivity to ensure you have all the information you need.

In addition, Subaru Eyesight Driver Assist keeps its eyes on the road to make sure there’s always a second observer and that you and your passengers stay safe. Nothing destroys an adventure like a safety issue, so Subaru doesn’t let that happen. Subarus are designed to help you cultivate good times, adventure, and exploration. The designers and engineers over at Subaru know this, and they certainly look out for us with the intelligent construction of their vehicles.

A grey 2021 Subaru Outback is shown from the side while driving through mud.

The Road Less Traveled

It’s a big world. There’s a lot to see. You may not get to everything, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see what you can. Having the right vehicle will certainly help make this easier for you. Subarus do this by providing excellent handling to combat the elements, exterior designs that remind you to have a little more adventure in your life, and interiors designed to withstand the results of your time in the great outdoors. Subaru knows what it is, as proven by its strong brand identity. Such specificity is a sign of a good brand. Behind the wheel of a Subaru, you can take the road less traveled, the scenic route, the road trip, the camping trip, or anything in-between.