Johan de Nysschen Continues To Defend Cadillac’s Alphanumeric Nomenclature33
Cadillac has seen quite a few big changes since current brand president, Johan de Nysschen, stepped in to take the reins. One of those changes was a complete revamp of the brand’s nomenclature, ditching the “TS” for “CT” and “XT”, followed by a number to present the vehicle’s hierarchy within the lineup.
However, plenty of skeptics aren’t feeling the love with the latest nomenclature, stating storied nameplates like “Eldorado” and “Coupe de Ville” will help project its iconic image.
“I don’t claim that it is stunningly creative,” de Nysschen says of the new naming convention, as reported by Wards Auto. The only vehicle within the Cadillac lineup to keep its proper nameplate is the Escalade, for obvious, successful reasons.
“Alphabet soup is one of the characteristics now of the luxury market,” said de Nysschen, adding that Cadillac has a greater chance for success with alphanumeric nameplates.
“And we know that on a global basis, luxury-brand consumers like to know the hierarchy of things,” he said. “They cannot figure out the hierarchy if we use names.”
That doesn’t mean there isn’t any love, though. It’s just doing business globally.
“[I feel] emotional tugs at my heartstrings when I hear names like the Eldorado and Coupe de Ville. But I will tell you, to a 30-year-old luxury brand intender in China, it means absolutely zero.”
Lastly, de Nysschen offered up one last piece in defense of alphabet soup: Cadillac is going to have a lot of new product coming.
“If you go on a product offensive on the scale that I’ve just described, it’s not easy to find names that are relevant.”
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“It’s how luxury brands operate”… Except for Porsche, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Maserati, Land Rover, Lamborghini, Pagani….
Yes I know what you mean as no one uses silly things like numbers and letters.
No one in their right mind would use things like 599, 348, F12, F40, F50, 308, 328, 528, M3, 911, 928, 959, 300, 600, A3, A4, A5, 328, 250, 458, 512, LM 002, H1, H2 H3, 4C, DB4, DB5, DB7, CX5, MX5, CX9, RX7, MR2, 300ZX, 280Z, 260Z, TR5, TR7, TR8, GT40, GT350, Z/28, FT-1, MP4, P1, WRX, XKE, XKR, Model X, RS8, ZR, Z4, X model, 2 Series, 3 series,6 Series, 5000, GTI, SVO GT350R ……… etc.
Let alone Cadillac ever using just numbers on their cars like Series 353, 352, 62, 70, 75, 90……
Never said that alpha-numeric hasn’t been done, just that it isn’t always done, it isn’t an unwritten rule of marketing that must be followed just because, like the article indicates. GM marketing seems to follow too much and lead too little.
Mark this all started back in the 70’s for the most part when models were being exported in larger numbers.
One of the first mass produced was the 240-260-280Z models that were called Fair Lady. Not a name that translates well into English. Many companies after that that exported many models have gone to this. If you note Cadillac is looking to export their models in greater numbers in the future are using it as there is no danger of repeating the Lacrosse issue in Canada and La Punta issue in any Spanish speaking country.
They see these numeric numbers as a way to make a model global under one name with no issues of more than one meaning be it slang or not.
It is not following it is more about practical and cost effective for global models.
Note too that many cars have names like Camry that mean nothing for the same reasons.
Naming a car is not easy or cheap globally.
I guess, you know what he meant. He meant, I think, Boxster, Cayman, Macan, Cayenne, Panamera, Mulsanne, Flying Spur, Continental, Bentayga, Phantom, Ghost, Wraith, Dawn, Quattroporte, Ghibli, Levante, [Range Rover] Sport, [Range Rover] Evoque, Aventador, Huracan, Zonda, Huayra. What else comes to mind – e.g. Alpha Romeo Giulia (not counting for retired “classic” models of all of these makes, having their own names no longer in use – pages and pages long).
Ultimately, as we all know, naming is ubiquitous using both ways (“alphabet soup”or unique “human language” names) for all vehicles, luxury or not.
It’s just “every frog praises its own swamp” thing – people can always find arguments towards one way or the other. So, it’s like disputing “which color is better”.
There is an argument for both sides as there is good and bad for each. I was just countering that the number games is far from failure also.
Often you have to just look at the way the car was marketed, where it was marketed to understand the why it was named,
Even names today with some vehicles like the VW Touareg has issues in some parts because it is named for a desert area that is well know for slave trading. While some areas have no idea others know and dislike the name. If the media ever focused on that area of the worlds slave trading it could really damage the name globally.
Other names many people have no idea how to pronounce. While on a high end luxury car like a Huayra it is a badge of honor to have a car name that even spell check will screw up on a ever day sedan it can be a more difficult car to market. This is a case where what the car is sells the name more than the name would ever sell the car.
As I said below the car makes the name or number not the other way around. In the past the Eldorado was a great car in 69 but by the late 80’s even the name could not save the car.
The bottom line is great cars will shine no matter the name or number but poor cars will never become great just because of the label.
You could change your name to Le Bron James but you will never play in the NBA. The same could be said for putting the name Corvette on a Sonic. It will never do much for the car. GM learned that when they called every Cutlass in 3 different classes of cars. In the end they all failed even with a great well know name.
Romantic visions in customers heads don’t work like they used to. A great name with a fantastic Fitzpatrick painted ad like the old Pontiac ads of the 60’s unfortunately don’t work anymore.
Most of today’s cars have obscure names or made up names to not have baggage anymore. Also they are easier to approve since most were never used for anything much.
In the end names are cool but not necessary if you build the car right. Number on a great car work just as well. It is more a visual thing and practical thing that sells cars today.
All the manufacturers you mentioned have a very limited product line up so keeping actual names that are relevant or non-offensive all over the world is less difficult.
I guess you are right they sell no where in the numbers of a F-150, F250, F350, D50 HD3500………
Any time you try to use a name globally it is difficult no matter if it is a production of 25 or 250,000.
Global names and sales are difficult. It gets easier with cars only sold in single markets but even then slang can get you in trouble as the La Punta in Spain and the Lacrosse in Canada.
Not only do you need to watch slang but also double meanings and things that could be offensive for religion. political and even mystic reasons.
This alpha numerical system began with the German brands global sales due to language barriers and German being a rough sounding language.
Latin, as used by Lancia, is great. English is the new Latin and thus an advantage for Cadillac. Cadillac could also do both: El Durado CT6 sives the vehicle both a soul and global sceme.
I agree somewhat with your suggestions. I think the alphanumeric names is really the only way to go globally but I think there is room to use an actual name for trim differentiation. There are some great Cadillac names from the past that GM already has copyright and name association rights to.
I hope all Cadillacs will not look the same Across the lineup in the near future…and not follow the same steps as the Germens.
They already do look the same. It’s hard to distinguish ATS sedan from CTS sedan, for instance. Only size difference and memorizing bits of their visual difference helps. Same thing with Buick sedans, too, for instance. So Cadillac is not alone in this regard.
But this makes some sense in terms of brand recognition.
At the very least, use Eldorado for the brand’s flagship. Is there a better name for a car which symbolizes wealth, dreams and aspirations? The lost city of gold.
I agree with this! One named flagship sedan – Eldorado, and one named flagship SUV – Escalade. The rest can have alphabet soup. This is the system they should use.
Alphanumeric soup for the sake of adhering to the competition’s convention (certainly not Cadillac’s)? Wouldn’t want to shake things up, now would we, Johann?
No combination of this alphanumeric tripe spells “Innovation”. Looks like Cadillac management is satisfied with following after all. Apparently that’s easier than leading but it doesn’t bode well for seeing history rewritten at Cadillac any time soon.
I find the alphanumeric system confusing. I’m an “old school” and miss the days of Coupe DeVilles and Eldorados.
My first Cadillac was a 1980 Coupe DeVille and since then I’ve had another Coupe Deville, an Allante, 2 Sevilles an Eldorado, a Catera, 4 CTSs and 3 SRXs. Names, in my opinion, are much more elegant. In the old days people would ask, what kind of car is that? the answer would be, “its a Seville” or “its a Coupe Deville”. Everyone knew that a Seville and a Coupe Deville were Cadillacs.
But that is the point. Everyone knew the name because it was advertised. People know what an S Class or 5 Series are and they are not conventional names. A positive name association can happen with an alphanumeric name as well. It will just take time and effort as it would with any new name.
Cadillac has to think globally and the majority of the rest of the world does not have an association with Edorado, Seville, Catera, Cimmeron, etc.
If you like a German cars buy a Germans car. It seems GM has lost it’s way on what a Cadillac is suppose to be. It’s not a race car. It’s not a sports car. It’s not an econo box. It’s not a German import . It’s suppose to be an American icon of luxury automobile industry. A large quiet luxury car exhibiting opulence with tasteful statured styling. Provide a choice of discriminate models for their discriminate customers yet limiting those models which only reflect on the stature of the brand. No road or tire noise will be allowed. Seats are to be comfortable as your finest furniture. Enough power from a dedicated Cadillac V8 to move the beast quickly but silently as the surge of power moves the beast as safely as possible. No four cylinders or V6 should be associated with Cadillac. Stop playing follow the leader and set the standard of the world in your revival of the Cadillac name. As far as the current line up of cars they should be considered LaSalles without a direct association with Cadillac name
I agree other than the V8 comment. Every mass market luxury brand has a mix of 4,6 & 8 cylinder engines, as appropriate to the size/type of vehicle.
Global is a synonym for compromised, as applied to Cadillac’s current mindset. Giving cars actual names isn’t a detriment to worldwide sales. In fact, Cadillacs with storied names are still instantly recognizable and coveted the world over, decades later. When they designed and named those cars, they wanted to create a stir and they thankfully weren’t worried about mistakenly offending someone in Outer Mongolia. Can you hear Chuck Berry singing about a CTS? No wonder they don’t write songs about cars anymore and if they do, they must be rap songs about Escalades.
El Miraj, name intact, is the unabashed reincarnation of the Standard of the World. It was Cadillac’s obvious return to glory. Anyone who doesn’t get any of this probably shouldn’t be in charge of revitalizing Cadillac.
It’s amazing that there weren’t any songs about a GTO… oh wait, there were.
The car makes the name, not the other way around. If the car is good, the name will be elevated as a result. Camaro didn’t mean squat until the car made it’s own reputation. Likewise, Eldorado didn’t have any value until it was associated with a good car. An alphanumeric system is no different.
Point taken but let’s be clear that GTO did stand for something even if what it meant was in a foreign tongue and hijacked from someone else.
SS 409 meant something, too. As did 396, 454, GS, AMX und so weiter.
High time they started back doing the things they used to do.
Most of us don’t name our kids #1, 2 and 3 because names that mean something mean something man and our society is already a$$ deep in meaninglessness.
STS = S-Series Touring Sedan
CTS = C-Series Touring Sedan
DTS = D-series Touring Sedan
XLR = X-Series Luxury Roadster
SRX = Sport Recreational Crossover (X)
Now Cadillac is going to CT5, etc. CT probably meaning Cadillac Touring or C-Series touring (or a few have said Catera Touring, but I don’t know that I trust that info).
The letters and numbers have meaning, it’s just abbreviated (just like GTO or SS409). How many people do you know that go by their initials? Donna Jo (DJ), JFK, FDR, LL Cool J, etc.
A name is something to personalize or personify an object. As mentioned above, using the abbreviations and branding it that way, makes it easier to say, easier to remember, and harder (not impossible) to attach a mistranslated meaning.
Now if you want them to start back on the way they used to do, look at how they were named in the company’s infancy – models and series.
So the rest of the world doesn’t have an idea what an Eldorado is or a CoupeDeVille !? That statement has no merit .
This is just more proof that Cadillac doesn’t have the $alls to lead but copy what others are doing .
The names Cadillac has had in the past had an image , we knew what it meant to have a Sedan de’Elegant or an Eldorado ETC . Now as in the past at GM , they are giving us what they ” think ” we want .
Johan is more worried about what the Chinese think than what Americans do .
Go out in public and tell someone on the street that you just bought a new Cadillac CT7 . They won’t have a clue WTF you are talking about . Tell them you just bought a new Cadillac Sedan DeVille ……!
This is really a bowl of alphabet soup , all those letters and numbers floating around not making a bit of sense .
I just read an article that there is a refresh coming for the CTS in June2016 and a name change to the CT5 as well as a name change for the ATS to CT4 . Cadillac is going to have to educate the American public on just what the new names mean . And an explanation on why they are going with the numerical names . It’s so we don’t confuse the Chinese . Those poor people wouldn’t know what an Eldorado is or an Elmiraj . What would be wrong with educating them what the names mean instead of dipping the spoon in the soup for a name that as of now not many people understand .
As far as the refreshening of the CTS ( CT5 ) , who is going to get credit for that ? Johan has been at the helm long enough now that no one can continue to KEEP saying that this was baked into the system long before he came along . The fact of the matter is his hands are on it . I didn’t read in the article a time period for the ATS ( CT4 ) refresh but it can’t come soon enough . Why throw good money at a turd , it’s a nice car but has been a terrible success since it was launched .
You can argue the point either way between numbers and names but the truth is the car defines the name and make it a winner or a looser.
Get the car right and you can just about call it what you want and it will sell.
Many people can not even get enough of the Koenigsegg CCX right to Google it but they can tell you how fast it is. Others can only pronounce it because of Jeremy Clarkson.
There is nothing wrong with letters if that is how you start and with continuity carry it for years to build successful customer relationships that identify with the letters . BUT , you do not switch from names to letters and in a few years AGAIN WANT TO SWITCH TO DIFFERENT LETTERS…..THIS IS UTTER MADNESS !! Cadillac is a brand that goes back many years and it still has a reputation ie ” rides like a Cadillac ” but this lettering is confusing your buying public . Other manufacturers hoard their products identity , it is everything ! Do you think for one second Ford would change the hot selling Fusion , Escape , Explorer Fiesta etc to letters or numbers ? One of Caddies top sellers , through thick and thin , over the past 7-10 years has been the Escalade , and guess why they don’t convert this vehicle to a letter name….doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out , does it ??
But most companies do not have continuety in their names anymore. Look at Buick. None work with anything else.
Ford tried to so all F names till they got to the Mustang and then abandoned that idea.
Same on numbers they try to add to the level of the car with larger the number. Or in the past Ferrari used it to show the size of the engine and number of cylinders. 308 was a 3.0 V8.
These are noble ideas but often get tripped up by their own product that do not fit the path or changes in marketing. In the end names and number meaning change and companies move on all the same.
I would wager you could change the name of an Escalade and find it would sell just as well as it does now as long as you offered what the customer sees in the car. Few people get up and say I have to buy a Escalade because of the name only. Not that I recommend a name change but it is the fact of what it is not what it is call is why it sells.
Agree or not I found this interesting.
right, so “daring greatly” means adopting a me-too nomenclature?
I still think the alpha numeric names should be phased out for actual names. Germans are Teutonic & German itself doesn’t translate well into English, e.g. the language used throughout the world since the British Empire colonized it eons ago.
I’m pretty sure using Cadillac names in history can tie it back to being great because it has all the driving pleasures of those German brands yet match with the luxury & technology of America. Also, the use of names on a luxury brand (something NOBODY does, even non-Germanic brands like Jaguar & Lexus) feels more inline with “Dare Greatly” to me.
To counter De Nysschen, having a name that start of as zero is GOOD. There is no affinity to mistake it for anything else & the nameplate (just like the Cadillac brand itself) can be rebuilt from ground up.
Based on his previous experience, I suppose we are fortunate that the brand didn’t change to Quadillac.