Making "Better & Best" Better
Lincoln and Mercury are the “better” and “best” of parent Ford Motor Company’s main-line offering, with Ford representing the “good” brand.
Yet the dealer environment and communications were challenged to adequately distinguish the brands. To begin with, all three brands were sold in the same retail environment, with little done to distinguish the shopping experience. Even the brand identities were presented in equal weight on the dealership signing and other marketing materials.
As the number of mid to high-end competitive offerings grew, it was particularly challenging for Lincoln to represent itself as a luxury brand when its image was blurred with Ford and Mercury.
Another challenge facing the company was that the independent franchise owners often developed their own proprietary brands for their communications, sometimes at the expense of the Lincoln brand. This further detracted from the development of a consistent brand.
Starting at the identity foundation level, the brand strategy for Lincoln Mercury created greater differentiation from Ford by diminishing the weight of the linkage to the brand. This was achieved by creating a verbal endorsement using a heritage classic script typeface.
The Lincoln and Mercury identities themselves were refined to be more distinctive, including the use of heritage icons. And an identity system was also developed to allow the franchise owners to showcase their own identity, while preserving the integrity of the Lincoln Mercury brand.
In addition to changes at the identity level, a dealership merchandising and marketing strategy was developed. Challenged with the fact that each dealership owner was reluctant to spend large budgets for drastic dealership overhauls, a plan was created that provided simple changes that had little or minimum cost impact.
The major emphasis was on doing whatever was possible to distinguish the Lincoln brand. This was accomplished by defining specific areas for Lincoln-only vehicles and materials, creating Lincoln-branded point-of-sale materials, and developing a set of “luxury cues” that addressed lighting, floor materials, wall graphics, and product display.
This work was led by Charles Rashall while employed at Landor Associates.