Mistaken Identity

rear end of Nissan QuestQuick – what make of car are you looking at? No, it’s not the new Mercedes GLK model as I thought today when pulling up behind it at a stop light. It’s the 2012 Nissan Quest.

This  car seriously overhangs the market in the design department. It’s got features I’ve either never seen before, or have only just begun to see on the street. Things like radically sloping front hood, massive logos peaking out from the grill, front and rear brake lights that look suspiciously like bug eyes. Fasten your seat belts, another design revolution is underway and I for one am lost in America. Some design elements are absorbed into a shared vernacular. Others become distinctive brand identifiers – to name a few old and new:

  • Floor mounted ignition/key (Saab)
  • Rear mounted engine (original Bug)
  • Side panels that look like shark gills (Land Rover)
  • Headlights designed to look like owl eyes (BMW)
  • Headlight frames with a row of mini lights stretched to look like eyelashes (Audi)

Moral of the story – automobile designs come and go like hemlines, but some design elements stick in popular consciousness and come to define specific brands. For better or for worse, it’s all a matter of personal taste and tribal identity…but that’s for another post!

1 Comment

Filed under Sense of community, Sign of Quality

One response to “Mistaken Identity

  1. David, interesting post. There are few places where branding plays as strong a role as in the automotive industry. and all of us who drive are exposed to it every day, every time we step into our vehicles. And the examples you cite go way beyond what we normally think of as branding–wordmarks, logos, etc., which of course are all present on our vehicles. but as a designer I find those more intangible qualities–the design vernacular that you mention–infinitely more fascinating. Some other companies that have fully exploited design vernacular come to mind: Braun, Apple, Phillips.

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