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Lincoln Naming – Cat Food By Any Other Name Would Still Smell As Sweet

The Madness at Lincoln Continues.
Over that last two and a half months, Ford Motor Company has been misrepresenting its new naming strategy for future Lincolns. At an early reveal of the Lincoln MKS, Ford’s North American Supremo Peter Horbury called the car the “Mark Ess.” Yet at the Detroit autoshow a couple of weeks later, the model was verbally referred to as the “Em-kay-ess” by Ford management and P.R. types. Concurrently the Aviator replacing crossover utility was called the “Em-kay-ecks.” That’s MKX in badgespeak.
At the Chicago show this week, Lincoln unveiled a lightly restyled and reengineered Zephyr that will be called the MKZ. In the press release materials for the successor to the Zephyr, the car is identified as the “Mark Zee.” C’mon guys, make up you minds.

So the new alphabet soup of Lincoln names is pronounced “Mark n” where n is whatever letter they which to use. Of course this begs the question why change from the company’s previous (and quite well established) naming convention. At the Chicago show, a Ford executive who shall remain unnamed mentioned that the company’s research showed that the car was more important than the name to Lincoln customers. Okay I can accept that. But if that’s the case why change your naming methodology at all. Name changes always cost a company money as extra marketing bucks have to be have to be shoveled into creating awareness of the new moniker.
And if what said Executive said is true about the name of a vehicle being unimportant, why didn’t Lincoln change the name of the new Navigator? Could it just be that the marketers and planners at Lincoln are so totally bereft of imagination that the best naming strategy they could come up with is to copy that of former arch-rival Cadillac? Think about it, Caddy dumps all its passenger car names replacing them with three letter glyphs. Catera becomes CTS, Deville is changed to DTS, Seville is now STS and the Cadillac that should have worn the Eldorado name ends up with XLR. Interesting to note that Caddy’s brain-trust didn’t mess with the name of the Escalade.
That item wasn’t lost on Lincoln.
The remaining aberrations at Lincoln are the Lincoln Mark LT pickup. At least you know how to pronounce it, but it is now inconsistent with the MKS, MKZ, MKX badging on the cars. And, of course, the venerable Town Car is still around (for another year at least). Will it become the MKT?

1 Comment

  • AutoExtremist| March 9, 2006 at 4:18 pm

    The following rant was found in the March 8, 2006 issue of Peter DeLorenzo’s AutoExtremist webzine. The insights closely parallel the observations of the VehicleVoice Scribe.
    “The AutoExtremist Quote of the Week goes to Ford’s Jim Padilla for this gem in a company email in a feeble attempt at defending Lincoln’s alpha-numeric naming strategy: “Yes, we have iconic nameplates with strong name recognition in the Lincoln lineup. With the new alpha nomenclature, we have an opportunity to embrace Lincoln’s rich heritage in a more contemporary, customer-relevant way through our MK badging, which is a modern interpretation of the historic Lincoln Mark name. The fantastic Lincoln product lineup, along with the new badging strategy, will make this great brand relevant to a new generation of customers.” Selective rationalization has always been taken to ridiculous heights in the car business (especially in Detroit), but this takes the cake. There isn’t one person outside of the self-medicating dreamers in Dearborn (and there’s a large faction down there who think this new naming strategy is brand suicide too) who thinks that the new naming strategy for Lincoln is a good idea. Expecting consumers to become interested in a “fantastic Lincoln product lineup” made up of vehicles like the MKX, MKS and the MKZ (formerly known as the Zephyr for like, five minutes) when there’s no recognizable vehicle that says “Lincoln” anywhere to be seen in that lineup is simply laughable. The so-called marketing “experts” at Ford headquarters who have been marshalled by Elena Ford have simply squandered every last opportunity to properly nurture and resurrect one of America’s most easily recognized nameplates. But it’s just the latest tragedy in a long line of tragedies in Blue Oval-Ville. These guys and gals don’t get it – and they seem hell-bent on flying the whole thing right into the ground. It would be terribly sad if it weren’t so pathetic.”

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