“When you’re stuck in traffic, people look at the driver in the Mercedes as a person who has made it in society, and they will envy you. We haven’t fully achieved that compared with the German three (Mercedes-Benz, the Volkswagen Group and BMW),” says outgoing Lexus president Tokuo Fukuichi, who will be succeeded by Yoshihiro Sawa,

Now the newly appointed chief branding officer at parent company Toyota, Fukuichi is looking to create what is called “Lexus envy,” reinventing the itself to become a lifestyle brand rather than a “glorified Toyota.” As reported by Automotive News, Toyota president Akio Toyoda has given Fukuichi freedom to address any issue related to branding in his new role, including product planning and technology, marketing as well as advertising.

“I’m able to do whatever I want,” said Fukuichi, who added that part of the problem stemmed from platform sharing and thinly disguised rebadging between the brands. “Let’s clearly define Lexus and wait and decide that some things can only be Lexus and not applied to Toyota. I would like to clarify that sort of distinction,” he explained.

Even though Lexus frequently top the durability and customer satisfaction charts (i.e. J.D. Power study), the marque still loses out to the Germans in terms of sales. “Lexus’ strengths such as quality and service can’t be fully appreciated unless you’re in the car driving. Better quality isn’t that necessary. Better brand power is,” stated Fukuichi.

The company is already on the path of reinvention, introducing new models like the LC coupe and all-new LS sedan. The former is a big boost for the premium brand, which has been devoid of a halo car ever since production of the V10-powered LFA came to an end in 2012.

Aside from cars, Lexus also has its sights set on boat-building, debuting its Sport Yacht – a 42-foot one-off concept styled by Lexus designers – in Miami back in January. There’s also the Skyjet, a Lexus-branded spaceship prop that will be featured in the upcoming science fiction movie Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

These efforts are part of Fukuichi’s vision for Lexus to match up to the brand envy enjoyed by the Big Three. “After you purchase a Lexus, your whole lifestyle changes. The people you meet and circulate with change. That means with just one car, your total life image will change,” he said.