Thursday, February 02, 2006

The F Word

Focus, Fusion, Freestar, Freestyle, Fivehundred, Fiesta, Fairmont, Falcon, Festiva and Fairlane, did I forget any? We've all heard how a name can make or break a car, the old story of how Chevy couldn't sell the Nova in Latin American countries because it sounded like Spanish for "No Go" and how the Maverick did well because of it's "macho" sounding name in the same markets. And of course the trend over the years to come up with different naming schemes, based on alpha-numeric mixes, such as MKX vs MDX or M5, Z/28. MX5 etc...

In the 50's when Ford's management was looking for the name for the new division to compete with GM's Buick, they had over 6,000 ideas before coming down to Edsel. But could Ford's naming scheme over the last few years be hurting their image as much as the bland product itself? Cars are F and SUVs are E right? How simpleminded is that. Luckily in Europe and other markets Ford doesn't sufffer this brain damage, in Europe you have the Ka, Fiesta, Fusion, Focus, Mondeo, Galaxy, Australia it's Falcon, Fairmont, LTD, Focus and Mondeo. Still too many F names, even if some of them are Iconic like Falcon. And possibly more F names like the return of Fairlane in the US?

Escape, Explorer, Expedition, Excursion and now Edge, nothing edgy about that, and maybe in the future maybe EcoSport? Trucks/SUVs fair no better than cars.

In fairness, not all Ford cars begin with F, obviously the Mustang and Crown Victoria, but the Crown Victoria is on it's way out and the Mustang is a commodity in itself.

I was talking to a friend and co-worker and he told me that the E/F naming scheme was one factor that turned him away from Ford. He had other issues, but this is among his pet peeves with Ford. And it's one of mine also. I realize that some names have been tainted and can't be re-used (Pinto/Bobcat) but what about some of the others? Maybe a part of the Inovation that Ford is driving towards should include a rethink on the current naming scheme? What's next the Ford Forgetable?


Shawn said...

...I don't think anyone that would reject an entire brand based on names is all that serious in the first place. I also don't think it is one of their biggest problems.

However, what I do think is that the "F" & "E" trends are symptoms of a bigger problem at Ford. Marketing & accounting building cars instead of designers & engineers.

If you design & build something that you're passionate about, you're not going to call it "Freestar" or "Freestyle." They are stupid names marketing people come up with.

Can you just picture bunch of Ford's marketing people sitting around a table with the dictionary opened up to the letter F? LOL

Anonymous said...

At least Ford still uses names, Their Partners all use Alpha numerics. Jaguar x, s, mazda 3, 6, rx8, mpv, volvo v40 , s60.


jwfisher said...

And then there is Firestone, aptly beginning with an F. As does the word Bill Ford screamed when he realized what his relatives in the Firestone family did to the reputation and future of Ford Motor Company with their lousy tires.

Big Ford Fan said...

Naming a car or a company is a tough job, the wrong name can kill either. But if someone is on the fence about what car to buy, it could be a factor however small.

BobZoom, Jaguar has always used alpha numberic names, so that's tradition, same with Volvo. Mazda has in the US always used this same scheme. It's just lame, shows a lack of creativity to use all E and F names. What happened to Sunliner, Maverick, Galaxie, Capri or Cortina? Freestyle should have been Ranch Wagon or Country Squire, or something with a backbone. And 500? That should have been Galaxie 500!

Jeff, Firestone was bought by Bridgestone in 1988, the last family member to have anything to do with the company was in the early 60's and Bill Ford was reported to be embarassed by the situation, which dragged both his families names through the mud.

Ford Motor left themselves vulnerable by sourcing 65% of their tires from one company.