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Cadillac's Changing Face: Losing the Laurel?

Cadillac's Changing Face: Losing the Laurel?

Illustration by 731

Cadillac is considering changing its logo, dropping the laurel wreath that surrounds the crest of General Motors’ (GM) luxury brand.

News of the logo change, reported by Automotive News, brings up an odd fact about laurel wreaths: You don’t see a lot of them around anymore. The only brand that comes to mind is tennis wear label Fred Perry. But if you’re a luxury automaker, you need to be modern. And Cadillac’s logo—which has undergone several changes over the decades, including a duckectomy—is still too fussy and old-fashioned to compete with the sleek icons of companies like Mercedes-Benz (DAI:GR) and BMW (BMW:GR).

Sidenote: The funny thing is, of course, that Mercedes and BMW have had their “modern” logos for around 100 years (Benz since 1909 and BMW since 1917). Benz did have a laurel wreath around its three-pointed star until recently.

Cadillac used to call itself the “Standard of the World,” but now prefers “Art & Science” as its moniker, and the brand clearly wants a logo to complement that philosophy. It also wants to be a player internationally and has already made some nomenclature changes to reflect that ambition. Cars from Cadillac used to have names like Eldorado, Deville, and Fleetwood Brougham. Now, Cadillacs have names that conform to a more European style: ATS, CTS, and other alphanumeric conventions (only the Escalade still has a word-based name).

But doesn’t futzing with your logo betray a certain insecurity about your brand? Instead of owning the spirit of Cadillac, the company names its cars like everyone else and now seemingly wants a logo that appears “hip” and “modern.” Are these incremental changes really going to move cars off the lot? Isn’t getting rid of laurel wreaths the corporate equivalent of joining the Hair Club for Men?

Grobart is a senior writer for Bloomberg Businessweek and the managing editor of Bloomberg Digital Video. Follow him on Twitter @samgrobart.

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