Studebaker revives the Lark, and the name
Firstly, let me apologise if you aren’t familiar with American cars. My personal interest comes from watching old movies and getting excited about films and TV programmes set in the 50s and 60s, like Mad Men, rather than as a dedicated, Clarkson petrolhead. There is just something undeniably breathtaking about the style of these motors.
So I was attracted to the story of R.W. Reed, CEO of the Studebaker Motor Company. He is reviving this classic American marque, attempting to reengineer it to bring modern values to a brand that has been off the production line for over fifty years. Mr Reed wants cars made on American soil, that take some affinity from the past and a time when America was great – because things were always better in the past, weren’t they?
The Studebaker ‘Lark’* is the first car model, a “compact four-door sedan”, using hybrid technology (it does appear to still be very much a concept car).
This is a great way for brands to revive names and leverage any residual equity and affection for those names. Or simply totally reinvent them to create complete new values to make them relevant for a contemporary audience.
Using old names should be more than reintroducing the same products or even building nostalgia brands that make a few people remember their childhood, or want us all to live in some sepia-toned existence from a historical drama. For example, there are always campaigns like the one to revive the Cadbury Aztec bar (from 1967).
So many brand owners sit on the IP they own, if only to prevent other brands from stealing it. They lock up vast lists of names, unexploited assets, so it begs the question: what other names owned by corporations could be reused in a new and meaningful way?
Digging through the archives could save a fortune in developing new, original names, which are becoming so difficult to find and own. Why waste time creating new names when you have the solution buried in your files? Old brand names are often ignored, or sometimes discarded because of associations which can often be worked around (very few brands have such a disastrous past that they should never see the light of day again).
Why not take an easier option? Take an old name and put your energies into creating a new story to make it feel young again, rather than breaking yourself trying to find the holy grail of new names.
It’s great to see ‘old’ names coming back to life. So good luck R.W, we wish you well.
This also opens up a whole new world for brand namers; I might put ‘Tomb Raider’ on my business card, or ‘Reanimator’.
Andy Frankenstein (it’s pronounced “Fraahnkun-shteen”)
*The Studebaker Lark was a “compact car”, produced by Studebaker from 1959 to 1966.
In: Naming, New launches, Viewpoints · Tags: Automotive, Studebaker