Automakers are reviving long-dormant names in droves, including the LA Auto Show's Jeep Gladiator and Honda Passport. But why?
Today's auto marketplace offers more choice than ever, with car companies establishing niches within niches looking to fill every bit of model "white space." Not only is there a need for more names, there's a greater need for names which resonate. "Consumer loyalty is declining -- not because people are disloyal, but because we have so many more choices and more information," notes Lexicon Branding founder and president David Placek.
"I think in some situations, let's look at the trend of SUVs [that are] growing in popularity ... I think there are brands like Bronco that fit into what people are looking for. There's an emotional value to that [name], an associative value, a 'Western' [value]," said Placek. Certainly, a nostalgia-soaked name like Bronco is more intrinsically evocative than a serial-number-like alphanumeric designation.
Placek expressed the need for particular caution when exhuming a dormant nameplate and applying it to a new or very different kind of vehicle. "My advice to any manufacturer would be to make sure that before they make that decision, is to do some research with consumers and draw some continuums about not just how reliable those [old] cars were, but also how innovative and trustworthy and iconic they were. That would allow them to make that leap into the future [branding]."