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Lincoln Gets New Name: Lincoln

In a show of marketing savvy that put Detroit where it is, Lincoln is rebranding itself as Lincoln.

AP (“Lincoln brand changes name as new MKZ goes on sale“):

Lincoln is getting a new car and a new name designed to reverse 20 years of falling sales.
The 97-year old luxury brand, synonymous with presidential limos and black Town Cars, is returning to its original name, Lincoln Motor Co. Lincoln hopes the name will help restore the brand’s luster as the new MKZ sedan goes on sale this month.

Lincoln Motor Co. founder Henry Leland — who also started Cadillac — named the company after his hero, Abraham Lincoln. He sold it to Ford, which wanted a luxury brand, in 1922. Lincoln Motor Co. was used in advertising all the way through the 1970s and 1980s, but had fallen out of use more recently, Lincoln chief Jim Farley said Monday. That’s not unlike the brand itself, whose sales have been slipping since buyers began defecting to foreign brands like Lexus and BMW in the 1990s.

And, as we all know, the reason BMW has been outselling Lincoln is that the MW stands for “Motoren Werke,” or “Motor Works.”

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.


  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    When do they bring out the VH* model?

    *Vampire Hunter

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  2. Franklin says:

    Hey, marketers have to justify their existence somehow!

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  3. Beldar Conehead: An owner’s manual to a Ford Lincoln Mercury Sable.
    Highmaster: Ford Lincoln Mercury Sable?
    Beldar Conehead: A personal conveyance named after its inventor, an assassinated ruler, a character from Greco-Roman myth, and a small furry mammal.
    Highmaster: Ah.

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  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Ford wants to strengthen its position in the luxury car market, particularly overseas. Trucks, SUVs, luxury. It’s where the money is. Ford’s position is pretty strong in the mid-size SUV market and in the truck market but it needs to improve its position in the luxury sedan niche. That’s what the name change promo is about. It’s a crowded class and I’m skeptical there’s really room in it for Ford to grab much more of it.

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  5. James Joyner says:

    @Dave Schuler: As am I, especially as they ceded so much ground to upstarts Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti and let some of the other stodgy brands move ahead of them. I am bemused by the notion that going from “Lincoln” to “Lincoln Motor Company” is going to have a non-zero effect on sales, however.

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  6. Dave Schuler says:

    @James Joyner:

    The class is as much about image as it is about style, fit, and finish. I guess there’s a focus group out there somewhere that liked “Lincoln Motor Company”.

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  7. Mikey says:

    Seems to me the addition of “Motor Company” is meant to convey an emphasis on power. Take a look at the new MKZ, it wants to be the opposite of stodgy–new design, lots of bells and whistles, available 300HP V6, etc.

    Not to mention a price point that parallels the comparable models from BMW, Lexus, and Infiniti.

    Will it make a difference? I doubt it will pull anyone away from the other brands, but someone who’s looking for their first car in that segment might be swayed. But Lincoln (Motor Co.) still has a long way to go in reliability, especially compared to Lexus.

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