What started as a quick sketch has become the face of an iconic American brand.
Buick is going through a renaissance, made abundantly clear by the 2024 Encore GX, the brand's first vehicle to wear the redesigned Tri-shield logo in the USA. While the change was much-needed - and gives Buick a new image for the future - it wasn't exactly intentional.
Steve McCabe, Buick's advanced design manager, told Automotive News (AN) that designers were instructed to imagine what the new face of Buick would be for the electric era. One of the sketches, which comprised a few swooping slashes instead of a badge, was shown to GM president Mark Reuss.
McCabe explained that vehicle sketches often start as lines, and details get filled in later. The interim slashes would have been replaced with a badge later, but this sketch somehow skipped that step. However, Reuss liked what he had seen.
"This one just happened to be the one that sort of slipped through without us putting a badge on," explained Buick senior exterior designer Geoffrey Richmond. "When [Reuss] saw that, he was intrigued by it."
"The fact that it was just my sketch was just a happy accident. I mean, everybody in the studio was doing these [kinds] of sketches," added Richmond. "Mine happened to be the one that got seen."
CarBuzz first learned of an update to the logo in March 2022 when we unearthed trademark filings for the updated badging. Not long after that, an image of the redesigned Tri-shield leaked, giving us a glimpse of what to expect. At the time, SAIC-GM said the brand would be reborn with a new global identity.
The new design is the most significant change the logo has undergone in 33 years. Often accused of being staid and stuffy, the automaker wants to shake off the negative connotations as it heads into the electric sphere. Buick intends to become an all-electric automaker by 2030 and will soon debut the battery-powered Electra crossover as the brand's first EV in the United States.
GM President Mark Reuss is a big fan of the new look and told AN that "it's sleek and dynamic, and I love that we'll see it on all Buicks going forward into the new era of electrification for the brand and for the company."
Buick's familiar Tri-shield in a ring dates back to 1959. The three shields represented cornerstone models like the LeSabre and Electra. While keeping an eye on the past is essential, the brand desperately needed a modern look.
The shields are no longer encased in the ring, and the staggered design has been eliminated. In its place is a minimalist logo with all the shields positioned next to each other. The sash has retained its angled look, said David Haskell, to maintain the brand's recognition.
"We feel that people can still recognize like, 'oh, this feels modern and new,' but there's some continuity to history that's still significant." This is important, says McCabe, who remarked that the new logo wouldn't just appear on vehicles - it will become a prominent fixture on all things Buick, including dealerships, websites, letterheads, and business cards.
He added that the new logo might be small but plays a big part in the overall picture. "You're designing this brand-new face, and it's super modern, and from the studio's perspective, then you put the sort of old badge back on it, it sort of dates everything."
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