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Monday, January 02, 2006

Lincoln Dropping Names

Apparently, Ford's marketing folks thought that the non-named Lincoln LS was such a hit that they should drop names from all Lincoln products in the future, and instead go with alphanumeric gobbledygook* such as Jaguar's XKR. For example, according to Automotive News (HT: AutoBlog), the new Aviator crossover will in fact be named "MKX", which stands for nothing in particular. This will no doubt backfire, and some of Lincoln's older customers (like, most of them) will think this is meant to be the "Mark 10", a distant relative of the Mark IIX. Aviator was a good name, I don't understand the need to screw it up.

Now, there's a way to set the brand apart! Hard to remember three letter names. Hello? Mr. Fields? What happened to "Red, White, and Bold"? Can you name the parent company of the following models? CTX, CXT, SRX, XJ8, SC, CLK, SLK, QX, MX5? At least, make the naming system logical, like Volvo: V for Vagen, S for Sedan/Saloon, XC for crossover, number for size.

*A word I almost never get to use!


Anonymous said...

You know what? The buyers of a CTX, CXT, SRX, XJ8, SC, CLK, SLK, QX, or MX5 don't care what the name is. They're buying a product they want.

Alphanumerics allow a brand to focus on just that, the brand and the product, and not subfocus on particular models (and not get stuck by future expectations of those model names).

This is a non-issue, in my opinion. Build fantastic products, people will buy them. End of story.

[I'm going to take a drive in my non-named 330I]

The Auto Prophet said...

You are right in that a good product will speak for itself. However, unlike companies like Lexus or Infiniti, Lincoln (and Cadillac, for that matter) has a long history, with many great names to choose from. Alphanumeric names do put the focus on the nameplate, but that is a dangerous thing to do if you don't have enough new product to back it up. Say "Licoln" to most Americans, and they may reply "Towncar?".

Anonymous said...

> Say "Licoln" to most Americans,
> and they may reply "Towncar?"

Which is exactly why they need to get rid of names, so they're not shakled by their own history.

Look at the fact Chrysler is about to dig up "Aspen" again. People forget names after a long enough time.

And the beauty of names is that you can always bring them back. Let Licoln do a run of MKX's, LKX's, DKX's, etc, etc, and if one day they truly design a world-class, world-beating sedan that humbles Lexus et al, then let them slap the "Continental" name on it. It'll finally have meaning then. Until that day comes, MKX or whatever they want to put on it is fine until the product catches up.

Anonymous said...

Automotive manufacturers are increasingly using alphanumeric names to avoid "translation problems" in the global market. It's a safe play, unlike GM's "La Crosse", which is French slang for masteurbation.

The only problem this leads to is who gets to use what letters? Audi recently won a legal battle against Toyota over the use of the letter Q.