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Why Lincoln Cars Use Names Over Numbers

SUV / 18 Comments

It's a breath of Corsair.

The insistence of the car industry to use alpha-numeric designations for their car models is a modern frustration. It can be a minefield in the industry as well. Back in 2008, Ford's executive vice president, Mark Fields, walked onto a stage at the LA Auto show and announced to a packed audience that he was there to "to show you our new flagship sedan, the Lincoln MKX." Except he wasn't there to show the world the MKX. He was there to announce the MKS.

It was an embarrassing faux pas, but it's also understandable considering that Lincoln's offerings at the time was basically alpha-numeric soup. Imagine the headaches for Cadillac's people as well with its offerings at the time including the CTS, DTS, XLR, STS, SRX, XLR, ESV and EXT.

2020 Lincoln Aviator Front View Driving via Lincoln
via Lincoln
via Lincoln

Premium carmakers are the worst for creating an alphanumeric soup for names, however, Lincoln is going against the grain with its current lineup that includes the Navigator, Aviator, Nautilus, Corsair, and Continental. There are still some holdouts, but the new naming strategy is deliberate according to Marketing Director Michael Sprague. "With any brand, you're trying to create an emotional connection," he told the Detroit Free Press. "It's easier to do that with names."

"Chinese buyers embrace the fact that Lincoln is an American luxury brand. Vehicle names in English are consistent with that," he also points out.

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Why brands use alpha-numeric names doesn't come down to one thing, and ultimately it's an amalgam of reasons. Mainly though, it makes branding on a global scale simpler and helps avoid the accidental use of a word meaning one thing in one language and something else in another. As we've seen before, that can have both comical and disastrous effects. Alphanumerics move through cultural and legal barriers for automakers, but leave consumers confused and emotionally detached.

Lincoln is currently pulling from Ford's back catalog of names, despite having some Lincoln names other than Continental that could be revived. "The names we're using all have a nautical or aviation theme" Sprague explains. "Consistent names are like consistent styling: they help you deliver a message. Plus, a name is warmer and more human than 'MK' or 'GL.'"

via Lincoln
via Lincoln
via Lincoln
via Lincoln

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