General Motors will explore freshening Buick's famous tri-shield logo, a top executive said.
GM North America President Mark Reuss, in a visit with a group of journalists responsible for awarding the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards, said the automaker might upgrade the Buick badge.
It would be the first redesign for the logo in at least a decade. The badge features three side-by-side shields enclosed in a circle. The logo is currently all chrome, but Reuss hinted that could change, too.
Spokesmen for the Buick brand declined to confirm or dispute Reuss' comments.
Redesigning a brand logo is an extremely sensitive process that can send enthusiasts and longtime customers into a frenzy. But Buick has been repositioning itself as an attractive choice for younger affluent consumers.
"There's people who can look at the badge of a car and know exactly what they are and what time period they're from," said Jeremy Dimick, curator of collections at Sloan Longway's Alfred P. Sloan Museum and Buick Gallery in Flint.
It's not clear what's fueling the consideration, but industry experts are quick to point out that the Chinese car market is driving Buick strategy. Buick has had a long history in that country and has been perhaps the most important contributor to making GM the largest western automaker in China.
"I don't really know what benefit it will be unless they're thinking they will capture even more of the Chinese market by doing this," said Peter De Lorenzo, a former auto industry marketing executive who now blogs at Autoextremist.com and has been a vocal critic of GM in recent months.
The Buick brand carries cachet among upscale Chinese consumers. GM sold 60,510 Buicks in China in October, up 7.7% from a year earlier. That represented 24% of GM's sales in China, and was more than four times as many Buicks as GM sold in the U.S. during the same period.
GM's overall market share in China remained stable in the third quarter at 14.4%.
There is speculation that Buick's logo redesign could involve altering the color composition of the logo, which was once red, white and blue. The tri-shield came along more than a half-century ago, although the Buick logo incorporated a hawk for about a decade starting in the mid-1970s.
The LeSabre, Invicta and Electra models, which inspired the three shields, have been discontinued, but the tri-shield structure endures.
"You look at the car and know it's a Buick for sure," Dimick said. "Any future logo you would think would retain components of that. The brand identity is so wrapped up in that."
Although China is important, GM has emphasized its efforts to attract more young buyers in the U.S. to the brand with new vehicles like the Buick Verano Turbo. Spokesman Nick Richards said Buick is the only auto brand that has reduced the average age of its buyers over the last five years.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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