Escalade™

Naming | Consumer

The Situation

Brandsymbol draws on over 250 years of industry experience to create world-class brands. One of these solutions includes a naming project for Cadillac where they commissioned Brandsymbol’s managing director Doug Rand to generate the brand name for their new sport-utility vehicle. A market characterized by a proliferation of rugged sport-utility vehicles and the recent introduction of “luxury trucks” by Lincoln and Mercedes pushed Cadillac to take a different approach. Instead of standing out in a crowded market, Cadillac decided to redefine the market with the first sport-luxury vehicle.

 

Furthermore, Cadillac was in the process of transforming its brand for a younger audience, and this new SUV was the perfect opportunity to accomplish this. Most of the SUV names at the time included the Navigator, Pathfinder, Tahoe, and Land Cruiser, names directly reflecting travel or navigation. This consideration provided another golden opportunity for Cadillac to break through the branding tedium with a differentiated offering.

The Solution

The optimal name developed for this sport-luxury vehicle was Escalade. Escalade is a powerful name candidate, utilizing a common-usage word, defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “an act of scaling especially the walls of a fortification.” Consumer research indicated that individuals buy SUVs/SLVs to “feel they could get away,” because “they wanted to know they could take on rough terrain,” and because “they wanted to stand out on the road.”  Therefore, Esca, referencing escape, scal, speaking to scaling rough terrain, and the alade from accolades respectively address these research findings. Additionally, Escalade utilizes many of the same letters of Cadillac, thereby it naturally fit within the Cadillac family and provided a soft, smooth sound, reflecting that the sport attributes are integrated with Cadillac’s promise of high-end luxury.

The Success

“Escalade is the right name for a vehicle that will reach a new level of prestige in the full-size sport-utility segment,” said Dave Nottoli, brand manager for Escalade. “Escalade will help Cadillac offer a broader portfolio of products to luxury consumers who are also considering sport utility vehicles when renewing their leases or making their next purchase.” Nottoli’s prediction was correct. Escalade is now a household name, with over 27,000 recorded sales worldwide in 2020, 21 years after its original launch. Escalade is an excellent example of how the right name, supported by a clear, consistent, and compelling brand strategy, messaging, and positioning, can set a brand up for success for years to come.