As long as car companies have existed, each has gone to great lengths to establish their own design styles, nameplates and everything else to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market.
Part of this differentiation is the distinctiveness of the brand, which is usually attached to the stern. It can denote a special option package like the MINI John Cooper Works cars or an official statement like Jeep’s Trail Rated SUVs.
It often denotes a trim. The designers of the new Ford Bronco took more steps than most to separate the recurring legend from the rest of the field with these decorative names and badges.
In addition to the average words or letters commonly used to denote different versions of the same vehicle, Ford set out to evoke connections to enthusiasts’ favorite off-road locations. Following the base model, the trims developed for the initial rollout were Big Bend, Black Diamond, Outer Banks, Badlands and Wildtrak.
Everglades and Raptor variants were added to the 2022 model year.
After the design team received the names of the first classes, the eight-month badge design process began. The team of three set about designing unique badges that would represent the typical places where this disguise would be used.
For example, the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas, represent most of the off-road experiences that Big Bend clothing is designed for. Wildtrak is intended for sandy terrain, hence the dunes on the emblem.
Dean Carbis, chief exterior designer for the Ford Bronco, tells news week that the boards were designed with the emotional reactions of customers in mind who wanted to go beyond the chrome plate – or “candy bar” as he calls it – that had become the norm.
“If you want to be more emotional, you can give the customer a visual image by having something that relates to a particular place, personality or style, rather than just being XL, STX or ST,” he explained. “So they do not feel that they are losing or gaining more than they are willing to pay for. They are actually buying the vehicle they need and that suits their needs. “
The team wanted to ensure that the nameplates would help build a potential buyer’s confidence in the opportunities they will receive with their Bronco.
“I think the basic premise is that you are not getting a cheap vehicle and you are not spending too much,” he said. “You get a vehicle that suits your purpose. And it’s aimed at the type of person that we feel applies to this particular series. “
Jason White teaches design history and theory at Detroit College of Creative Design, one of the nation’s leading colleges of transportation design. He is also a former designer for Ford.
In conversation with news week, he cited the legacy of industrial designer Raymond Loewy as the historical reference point for the Bronco’s badge. Loewy worked for Studebaker, designed the Greyhound bus and created the original emblem for the US Postal Service.
“He was trying to get results with abstract symbols that were very simple but had high memory power,” White said. “If you think about it, it’s a really difficult balance.”
He cited the Big Bend and Black Diamond emblems as good examples of this balance, where the emblem and the design of the vehicle work together in harmony.
“If you want to do some kind of special trimming, make sure it works with what the shape does,” he added. “Do not do anything that tries to compete with the shape of the vehicle.”
Each Bronco emblem goes beyond the mere appearance and has a unique texture that, although not obvious at first glance, is clearly touching.
Small diamond backs run through the Black Diamond emblem, the wave pattern has a texture distinct from the other features of the Outer Banks cladding, and the rugged nature of the rocks in the Big Bend is mimicked in the appropriate Bronco.
Carbis wants to explore how to wrap more in badges, such as different tones, colors and depth of field, but the team is limited in the materials they can use. The priority is to use materials that are UV, abrasion and scratch resistant.
The team also had to figure out how to integrate the Sasquatch package into the vehicle’s history, and ultimately decided to hide a Sasquatch silhouette in the fairing marks. Only the basic disguise without a label will receive a special label for this package.
“It was another good story where we could play with the brands,” he said. “We start playing with the Sasquatch story, where he hides in the emblem … Mythology says he’s always hidden. He’s hard to see.”
Of all the badge designs, Carbis prefers that associated with the Badlands variant, which has a mountainous silhouette that also has a skull and crossed bones on a yellow background. He sees a deeper story in the emblem.
“There’s definitely a graphic intent in terms of shape and images,” he said. “Depending on how you see it and how your mind is set, you see the skull or you see the mountain range.”
Ford is not the only company experimenting with expressive badge designs. Subaru’s slowly growing Wilderness variants have a mountain range and forest on its emblem.
Carbis says that as the Bronco story unfolds and more potential skins are designed, his team will continue to explore new ways of telling the story of this vehicle. He points to the Everglades border, which shows a topographic map of Florida’s wetlands.
He also hopes that this will be extended to other parts of the Ford series and the automotive industry in general, although he does not expect the same level of detail as the Bronco brand. Part of that is due to the aftermarket’s fervor and modularity, which enthusiastic vehicles experience, as he says, are not so pronounced in traditional pickups or SUVs.
“Only Bronco can do that,” he said. “But I like the way we played with silhouette, texture and reflectivity, so badges have more meaningful elements than just being a candy bar.”