Just the other day, we told you about how Lincoln isn't really a luxury brand, according to Ford's head design man, J Mays. His argument was that Lincoln lacked the unique DNA to differentiate it from the rest of the market, although the arrival of the MKZ is beginning to change that. Now, we have this video from Autoline Detroit, where Jim Hall, an analyst for 2953 Analytics who was quoted in yesterday's Lincoln story, explains the influence of certain styling cues and how they impact the brands.

Using BMW (Angel Eyes) and Buick (Ventiports) as examples for small, simple touches that serve to distinguish the brand's vehicles on the road, Hall then points out how changing trademark styling features, as Chevrolet has done on the new Corvette Stingray, can hurt the vehicle's public perception. Take a look at the full video below for an interesting dive into what these styling features mean to their individual brands.


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  • 55 Comments
      motoramic
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hope the vertical tail light signature continue to stay with Caddy...
      David
      • 1 Year Ago
      Design cues that identify? J.Mays, are you listening? For Lincoln this means Continental kits(faux) and suicide doors. Not batwing grilles. That was our parents and Grandparents.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @David
        maybe Lincoln should work on the rear end with the wheel mounted on the trunk again?
        ckm
        • 1 Year Ago
        @David
        I think Lincoln's signature is the eggcrate grill - The first gen MKX had it right and was attractive & very Lincoln, the current one is awful. 1st Gen: http://www.theautochannel.com/news/2007/12/20/073869.2-lg.jpg Current: http://images.thecarconnection.com/sml/2013-lincoln-mkx-fwd-4-door-angular-front-exterior-view_100388705_s.jpg Nothing in the current grill say Lincoln to me - it looks like a Chinese knockoff of a crappy Japanese concept car.
        normc32
        • 1 Year Ago
        @David
        Or the spare tire mounted on the trunk lid outside?
      Camaroman101
      • 1 Year Ago
      still angry about the camaro losing its own emblem
      rmt_1
      • 1 Year Ago
      While I generally agree with Mr. Hall point that cars and their manufactures need a "visual shorthand" to help maintain brand awareness and identification, the examples he uses are not very good to strengthen his overall argument. The BMW's "Angel Eyes" example only really helps BMW as an identifier because their shape now mimics the brand's historic "Kidney-Shaped Grill", which is BMW's most identifiable visual trademark feature. The Buick's "Ventiports" example is almost laughable, because they have become completely non-functional, useless bits of cheap plastic glued on hoods or fenders. If they were at least functional as vents to exhaust engine heat or illuminated for use as turn-signal repeaters, similar to the original, illuminated "Ventiports", then they could be a useful identifier; however, as they are used now, they only make Buicks look "cheap" in the eyes of potential customers. And lastly, the Corvette's "4 Round Taillights" example totally ignores the biggest problem with the C7's rear end styling. It may be functional, but it's a visual mess of just too much disjointed "stuff" going on back there beyond the tail lights and overall I'm still trying to get past seeing how much the Corvette's tail end resembles the Rambler Marlin. First, the hexagonal tail lights are not a problem in themselves, but their physically connection to those triangular vents creates an illusion that makes the lights appear both larger and "heavier" than the lightweight sports car should have. I use the term "heavier" here because the vents literally draw the eye down from the end of the horizontal plane of the tail lights, like a visually "weight" pulling down on them; it also doesn't help that the vents look a bit like an arrow pointing down. Second, the hexagonal tail lights visually clash with the 4 round polished exhaust tips. If the tail lights were round, then round exhaust tips would make perfect sense, but the now famous tail lights obviously aren't round, so why are the exhaust tips round? If the exhaust tips were hexagonal too, to mimic the tail lights, then I believe the controversy over the lack of round tail lights could have been largely avoided. I also doubt Mr. Hall's prediction about the return of round tail lights on the C7 will ever happen. While I hope GM cleans up the C7's tail end with the car's first refresh, GM has spent too much time and money in defining how the C7 is a quantum leap over all previous Corvettes, so going "retro" with any major design elements isn't likely. Maybe round tail lights will return on the C8, but who knows? Overall, the "visual shorthand" that Mr. Hall missed and yet defines most cars and brands is still the now mostly-cosmetic front grill, given how most cars are now "bottom-breathers". BMW, Buick, and now even the Corvette can be identified by their grills alone. Simply, the best way to help or hurt one's brand is "grill" design.
      Kimura
      • 1 Year Ago
      Those Ventiports actually reappeared on the fenders of the 2003 Park Avenue Ultra.
      Mxpress
      • 1 Year Ago
      Every day you learn something new, this should be part of Autoblog's weekend news.
      btulliani
      • 1 Year Ago
      More!!! Great Stuff!
      cruizin03
      • 1 Year Ago
      seems to me the kidney shaped grills have a lot more history and more of an identifying brand feature for BMW than the angel eyes. Few other examples I think of are the crosshair grill for Dodge/Ram, and Led DRL's for Audi. I dont think the portholes on Buicks really hold much significance since they became stick on pieces of painted plastic like the ones you can find in the clearance bin at your local auto parts store.
        bookemd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @cruizin03
        I agree, the grill is historic whereas angel eyes are not even 10 years old.
      Kurt Massey
      • 1 Year Ago
      An article with great potential that ultimately merits a "C" for merely completing the assignment. The introduction of BMW's angel eyes was a clever feature-adding solution to the problem of continuing the signature BMW quad headlights of prior designs in an era of lighting awash with amorphous sealed beams. The look incorporated the premium tech of xenons that is now evolving to LEDs and future laser based lights; brand DNA that actually added features and luxury. Contrast that with Buick's ventiports - ill-conceived and useless. I consider myself in the majority who think they are just transparent marketing foolishness. They badly mar an otherwise vastly improved design and product line-up. I find it hard to fault the new C7's overall design or it's tail lamps since the car introduced a vastly improved product. Give it some time. As a whole, the previous Vette's DNA was akin to Buick's ventiports: cheap, dated, unevolved, uninspired - all fatal flaws in a $50k product. The new C7 portrays quality, real engineering advances, a renewed competitiveness, integrated. Mr. Turkus missed the boat in his article, or waited too close to his deadline to do his thinking. Automotive DNA needs to speak to the core of what the brand is selling in its respective segment. But overall DNA falls into two camps - functional and inspired or tacked on and derivative. Lincoln finds itself where Cadillac and Acura were 5 years ago. Today Cadillac is succeeding, becoming more unique & competent with each model intro while Acura retreats into stubbornly chrome beaked Toyota-esque blandonymity. I for one, am encouraged by Lincoln, hope they stay the course through the bumps, continue to figure out their unique value add and execute. If they can execute on modern design and solid performance, become a braver and more original Audi - I'd shop them.
      btulliani
      • 1 Year Ago
      Would like to see an art-deco revival..............
        rstonnerdd
        • 1 Year Ago
        @btulliani
        Art-deco requires time, money and craftsmanship. There is also the issue of educating the public and your potential buyers about what makes it special, whether it be a car or furniture. You might get them to appreciate it, but getting them to buy it is another story. Many people would rather have the Ikea/Target version of a art-deco piece knowing that in one or two years some new shiny trinket will catch their eye. The particle board, vinyl and stamped steel version of whatever they bought will end up on Freecycle in order to make room for the newest knock-off piece de jour. I sometimes think there might even be a little Ikea mentality in some car designs.
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      Theres something about round quad tail lights I love. Its a shame Corvette had to change it up to something exotic but it probably wouldn't of gone well with the entire design. Just like when the Skyline/G35 ditched it for the LED array style taillights, it wasn't the same, and they immediately changed it back to the quad rounds and kept it on the new GTR.
      Mike J
      • 1 Year Ago
      I was with the ride till he got to the Vette. Are the lights controversial yes, but remember a couple of things. One the tail use quad lights which is more the Chevy signature than the circular lights. Also, Google aftermarket round lights on the new Vette, they are horrendous.
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