Automotive logo builds on more than 55 years of history and a family legacy
Buick’s tri-shield insignia, one of the most recognizable in the global auto industry, is receiving a makeover that advances the brand’s identity while retaining Buick’s instantly identifiable symbol.
Featuring wing-shaped elements and the return of three-color shields – red, silver and blue – the new insignia debuts on the 2017 LaCrosse. It is part of an all-new grille design inspired by the award-winning Avenir concept, which sets the new, chrome insignia against darkened waterfall grille bars.
All Buick models will adopt the new insignia by 2018.
“The new tri-shield insignia represents the next chapter in Buick’s storied design history and introduces a new face for the brand,” said Duncan Aldred, vice president of Global Buick. “It’s a progressive, contemporary design reflective of Buick’s newest vehicles and cognitive of the brand’s heritage.”
Introduced more than 55 years ago, the tri-shield design has its roots in company founder David Dunbar Buick’s ancestral heraldry. It has evolved over the decades, but honors the proportions and historical origins of the original.
When Buick was formed in 1903, the company didn’t incorporate a shield logo for about the first 35 years. Instead, the earliest models featured a bold Buick script on the grille. Later, a number of stylized emblems featuring Buick on the prominent radiator grille shrouds that characterized practically all motorcars of the time.
As legend has it, a designer researching the Buick family history at the Detroit Public Library in the 1930s found a description of the ancestral coat of arms in an approximately 80-year-old book of heraldry. Buick’s familial roots were in Scotland and while the book didn’t have an illustration of the crest, it described a red shield with a contrasting, checkered line bisecting it from the upper-left to the lower-right corners. The description also included a stag’s head in the upper right of the shield and a gold cross in the lower left.
The crest’s description was interpreted for a new, single-shield insignia that debuted on 1937 Buick models. It evolved over the next couple of decades, growing wider and, at times, taking on additional flourishes, but the shield crest adorned and identified Buick models through 1959 – although its prominence admittedly diminished during the 1950s.
The tri-shield insignia with distinctive, diagonally arranged red, white and blue shields, was widely introduced in 1960 and was featured front-and-center in the grilles of the LeSabre, Electra and Invicta models. The three-model lineup inspired the three shields in the new design. Each carried over the stag head and gold cross cues from the previous single-shield design.
As with the original shield design, the tri-shield design evolved. By the early 1970s, a ring motif surrounded the shields and the white color of one of the shields changed to silver. By the late 1970s, the tri-shield was used primarily on hood ornaments on some models, while the symbol of a hawk on the Buick name was used as the official logo, particularly in print and television advertising.
The hawk logo carried through the 1980s, but the tri-shield didn’t disappear entirely. It was still used on hood ornaments and on other identifying features, including, ironically, the front fascia on the two generations of Skyhawk models – the car that inspired the hawk logo. It also lost the stag head and cross cues in the shields, for a more streamlined and contemporary appearance.
The tri-shield logo returned to prominence again in the 1990s, and has continued for the last two decades as a signature styling cue. Its evolution in that time saw the colors removed from the shields, for an even more streamlined appearance, on landmark vehicles such as the Enclave.