Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Stupid Naming Conventions: Cars

In today's consumer-driven society, the market is full of all kinds of products to buy. In order to differentiate similar products from one another, manufacturers often give their products names instead of going by model numbers. Of course, some companies put vastly more effort into their product names than others.

Take a look at American car companies for example, which have historically given their vehicles real names. Cars like the Mustang, Thunderbird, Camaro, and Impala deliver strong visual images of power, speed, and strength. They just roll off the tongue. They may even influence the styling of the vehicle they adorn.

On the other hand, German and Japanese cars are seriously lacking in the imagination department. Rather than come up with clever or sexy names, they use esoteric combinations of letters and numbers to distinguish their vehicles. What comes to mind when you hear the name QX56, 740iL, and CLS-55? What does GS300 make you think of? They make me think of nothing. They make me picture hard-nosed designers who lack the human emotion that should go into building a car.

Before you go and point out that some automakers use these jumbled names to distinguish engine displacement, number of cylinders, or trim levels, I'm already ahead of you. Yes, a BMW 330 indicates an entry-level coupe with a 3.0-liter engine. And yet, the BMW 325 also has a 3.0-liter engine, not a 2.5-liter engine as the naming convention would indicate. It's completely meaningless when companies don't even adhere to their own rules.

Car manufacturers: start using the alphabet to make words.

I am not the only one who feels this way: