February 18th, 2011
Like me, I'm sure you've wondered why Chrysler broke with convention by retaining "LX" as the codename for its new-generation fullsize car platform.
A Chrysler insider recently spells it out for me.
"This vehicle should have been reclassified as LY," he says of the '11 Chrysler 300, the disputed platform's flagship. "The original vision was that it would gravitate to LY."
So what happened?
"There was an emotional attachment to LX with our past management, which was Cerberus," the insider explains. "They wanted to stay with LX."
Understandable. Especially because LX earned widespread industry acclaim.
It was the foundation of the '05 300, a car that rejuvenated American design. Why not keep the original designation? What could happen?
"Frankly, it's been wreaking havoc with us internally because all of our production-control systems and everything," the insider says. "It's been very difficult."
Separating the old program from the new required "shadow systems and all sorts of crazy things," he adds.
His disdain for Cerberus is glaring. Like a typo on a resume.
But the private-equity firm wasn't completely wrong to write off the time-honored naming protocol. So suggests California-based branding guru Steve Manning.
"'X' is associated with anything that's experimental or extra," says Manning, co-founder of Igor, a leading corporate-naming consultancy.
Not to mention sexy, "as in triple-X," he adds.
"It's a very uncommon letter in the alphabet so it tends to stand out and has a certain look and sound. Everybody uses 'X.' It has a certain cool factor."
And 'L' often is associated with luxury, Manning reminds.
Nothing wrong with that. But what does 'LY' communicate?
"'LY is no good," he says. "'Y' is just deadly. Combined with 'L,' it's just something that you put at the end of a word. Like slowly. There's nothing going on with 'LY.'"
Forget that platform codes have no market value. Cerberus did at least one thing right.
Give it an 'E' for effort.