Lamborghini Commits Brand Suicide (Again)

Miura. Countach. Diablo. MurciĆ©lago. These names are so legendary that even if you don’t know a thing about high-performance sports cars, you probably recognize a few of those. You hear the name Lamborghini, and you think of some of the most epic cars the world has ever seen. The name practically means “supercar”.

That’s what Lamborghini has done so well for so many decades. They have defined what a supercar is: the fastest, the coolest, and the most expensive. It’s the core of their brand, and it defines them as a company. That’s why their most recent unveiling is so puzzling.

Their new concept, the Urus, was just shown off at the 2012 Beijing Motor Show. It’s fast, it’s expensive, and it’s got Lamborghini’s typical wild, out-of-this-world styling. It looks like a stealth fighter had a three-way with an Audi and an Acura and, somewhere in there, some razor blades were involved. Normally you’d think that would end up looking pretty cool, but it doesn’t. Because the Urus is an SUV.

Now I’m having flashbacks. Actually more like nightmares.

Lamborghini LM002

Look, it's a big red rectangle.

This isn’t the first time Lamborghini has built an SUV of course. Back when I was a kid in grade school, the coolest car was the Countach. Then I found out they built this odd truck-thing called the LM002. It looked like it was slapped together with angle iron and big flat sheets of material that no one bothered to bend into any sort of shape. In fact, it looked a bit like Geoff. It just didn’t fit. It wasn’t a Lamborghini, no matter what the badge on the back said.

Now they’ve offered the Urus, and I’m getting the same feeling. It doesn’t matter that the front looks a bit like an Aventador and the back has all those funky angles. So what if it makes 600 horsepower? It still doesn’t fit. It’s an SUV, and Lamborghini doesn’t make SUVs.

Why follow when you could lead?

No doubt they’ve done lots of market research and have identified a segment that they can sell LOTS of these to. The problem is that it just doesn’t make sense in light of the brand they’ve spent generations building. It looks like the offspring of an Audi and an Acura because you can’t possibly imagine how it could be a Lamborghini. They make supercars, not SUVs.

Lamborghini has been a trend setter ever since a few of its engineers decided to build the Miura. They don’t follow the fads of the market, building whatever sort of vehicle is currently popular. They build what they want, what they think is cool, and then shake the world with their astonishing creations. They are anything but mainstream.

They’ve already gotten it right.

Lamborghini Gallardo

Girl in tight dress not included.

Selling a lot to a mainstream market may be good for the bottom line, and that’s understandable. You don’t get to keep making awesome cars for long if you can’t sell any of them. But this can be accomplished without damaging the quality of their brand. In fact, they have already accomplished this. Their Gallardo is perhaps the best example of how to reach a wider market and still maintain focus on the qualities that make Lamborghini so great and so unique. The so-called “baby Lambo” is their most-produced model ever, as well as their most accessible, with a cost that’s nearly half that of their top-end supercar, the Aventador. And they did it while remaining true to their brand.

The Urus is not true to this outstanding legacy. What the Urus is is a fashion accessory, conjured up in board meetings by a bunch of executives who wanted something they could sell to wealthy elitists. It’s a status symbol. It says, “Hey look at me, I’m driving a Lamborghini SUV! Look how much more money I have than you!” It doesn’t say, “I’m possibly quite a good driver and I at least have great taste in cars,” like a Gallardo or an Aventador would.

Admittedly, there is some place in Lamborghini’s brand for the “status symbol” mindset. Certainly these are exclusive cars. But in spite of the Urus being “exclusive”, it’s an oddball in a line of truly great vehicles. What this does is dilute the brand. It blurs the laser-like focus that Lamborghini has had for decades. It creates confusion, and that’s about the worst thing you can do to a brand.

Keep it out of the ditch.

A good driver is focused solely on the act of driving, both hands on the wheel, observant of everything the car is doing. Mindful of their surroundings and controlling the vehicle with intent.

You should have the same control over your brand.

When we develop a brand for you, we follow a specific procedure designed to create a strong, focused brand. It’s a process we’ve adopted from a few sources. It relies heavily on research and psychology, resulting in a brand identity that stands out from competitors and leaves no doubt about what your company excels at. Every aspect of the brand, from the name to the logo design and colors, is tuned to eliminate confusion and provide focus and intent.

Ugh. That terrible name.

Speaking of picking good names: “Urus”? Really? That’s the best name they could come up with? The thing was just revealed and the Internet has already renamed it after the least appealing part of the human anatomy. Good job Lamborghini. Let’s hope this one stays a concept. Sadly, my nightmares tell me otherwise.

My opinion is the only one that matters.

Actually, what do you think? Has Lamborghini jumped the shark, or have I got it all wrong? Has your company ever lost sight of its core brand? Let us know in the comments below.