Black Label Should Be Lincoln’s Only Label

By -

The Lincoln MKC Concept, introduced at the 2013 North American International Auto Show as a vision of how the brand might enter the small premium utility segment, features Chroma Flame, a Lincoln Black Label exclusive exterior color.

The Lincoln Black Label line of products are designed to be extra luxurious and appeal to a higher class of customer than what looks at the brand currently. There are even Black Label certified dealerships that escalate the purchasing and service experience to a more luxurious and individual-focused level. While right now it’s exclusive to Black Label products, the savior for Lincoln as a whole could lie within the Black Label brand.

Let’s take a look at the Apple Watch. The $350 Sport model has the exact same features that are in the $17,000 Edition model. It has the same sensors. It has the same processor and memory. The only difference that isn’t purely cosmetic is the Edition version has a sapphire screen.

If you stay at a regular hotel, the vending machines will probably sell you a Coca-Cola. If you stay at a fancy hotel, the mini bar will also have Coca-Cola, except that it’s served in a glass bottle. Sure, some can taste the difference but at the end of the day the same Coke is going into both bottles.

Lincoln, with the MKC, has done a nice job at differentiating it from the Ford Escape that it shares a platform with. But a car like the MKZ is just a Ford Fusion with a Lincoln badge.

A logical, fact-and-figure automotive journalist would question why someone would pay for a Lincoln MKZ over a Ford Fusion. The same type of journalist would question why you’d pay more for the Apple Watch Edition over the basic Sport. They’re the same thing with different packaging.

But Apple, along with other luxury brands, have figured out how to sell to luxury-minded buyers. They’ve figured out how to sell the same thing as a regular person would buy at elevated costs to higher-end consumers.

Some say it’s the dealership experience. Lincoln is working on their dealerships, and in order to sell the Black Label premium brand, the dealerships have to follow certain guidelines. In many cases, the dealerships aren’t even attached to the Ford dealer. Someone buying a Black Label MKZ won’t be competing for the same salesperson as a kid buying a Ford Fiesta, nor will they have to compete for the same service advisor.

That’s definitely a start. It’s less the experience of the car and more the overall experience of the ownership. But they need to take that further. Every dealership should be a Black Label dealership.

The Center Stage theme for Lincoln Black Label is inspired by fashion and theater. The exterior color is Black Tie, which is exclusive to Lincoln Black Label. Lincoln Black Label vehicles also will have exclusive wheels.

There shouldn’t be a Black Label at all. Lincoln needs to decide that they’re a premium brand and think the way other premium brands do. Every dealership should have the premium experience, and if the owner of the dealership doesn’t want to renovate or expand, then they don’t have to sell Lincolns.

The Black Label Lincoln MKZ is nearly the same car as the Ford Fusion, but the extra Black Label bits really make it feel special. Driving a Lincoln needs to feel special. Buying a Lincoln needs to feel special. Sitting in a Lincoln needs to feel special.

They’ve made some positive changes lately to support this approach, but they just need to dive in whole hog. Sell the experience, and not the car, and the buyers will come.

What do you think? Sound off in the forums!

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

Comments ()