Naming In The News

Land Rover Adopts Alphanumeric
Naming System For U.S. Models

By MARK RECHTIN | Automotive News April 17, 2004

LOS ANGELES — Following the lead of other luxury automakers, Land Rover will give its vehicles alphanumeric codes instead of names.

The change will begin this fall with the launch of the redesigned Discovery SUV, which will be called LR3. Other name changes likely will occur when major products are changed or introduced, says Sally Eastwood, Land Rover North America Inc. vice president of marketing.

"We want to focus on the Land Rover brand, not the nameplate," she says. "Land Rover is undergoing a product transformation. We wanted to start reinventing ourselves in the minds of our consumers and retailers."

The one exception will be the Range Rover, which will keep its name, she says. "In the case of BMW, if you have a 3 series, you say you own a BMW. But if you own a 7 series, then you own a 7 series."

Only the U.S. market will see the change in nomenclature. In the rest of the world, the next-generation Discovery will be called Discovery 3.

"North America has different circumstances than the rest of the world about how the brand is perceived," Eastwood says. "There is a strong Range Rover product perception here, but not as strong in terms of Freelander and Discovery."

Calling the new Discovery the LR3 conveniently leaves room for the next Freelander to be called the LR2, Eastwood concedes.

Also, an aggressively styled, Range Rover-sized vehicle in the $50,000 range likely will arrive in the next 18 months, and could be called LR4.

Lizzy Stallard, a naming strategist with Interbrand in New York, thinks the change will allow Land Rover to redirect attention to the manufacturer.

"The brand means adventure, off-road and premium," Stallard says.

"Even if LR3 doesn't mean anything, it's short and memorable and easy to say. Land Rover buyers are fiercely loyal to that brand, so a (product) name change will be fine. They live in a Land Rover world."

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank International in New York, realizes the challenges of creating a vehicle name that is socially acceptable and meets copyright laws in 50 countries. But he feels that choosing alphanumeric codes is a cop-out.

"There are so many names and numbers, everything is an alphabet soup," Javed says. "You cannot tell one product from another. Alphanumerics have no space in our subconscious mind, which is a very sacred place connected with name association and name recognition. Names come to you before numbers because it directly connects to the object.

"Numbers are great for cataloguing and indexing but are not so great for marketing."