Behind the Badge: Uncovering the Inspiration for Buick’s Three Shields Emblem
Back in the 1990s, the Schechter Group noted, “among car marketers, GM’s Buick gained an astounding 53 percent in positive image with its tri-shield symbol.” Clearly, the world embraces the brand identity of this century-old automaker through its respected, recognizable badge.
But what exactly does Buick’s Tri-Shield logo represent? Where does it come from and what do its colors signify? Discover the meaning of the Buick emblem in our study of the brand’s history.
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Buick’s Badge Is a Scottish Military Emblem
Scottish-American inventor and high school dropout David Dunbar Buick founded the Buick Motor Company 1903 in Detroit, Michigan. Unfortunately, he was forced out of the company for his financial decisions and died a penniless inspector in Detroit–but that’s another story.
When the company first began producing vehicles, the badges often involved text-based designs of the brand’s name. It wasn’t until 1937 when GM styling researcher Ralph Pew first discovered a description of the Buick family’s ancestral arms in Burke’s Heraldry (1851), which read:
“Gu. A bend chequy, ar. and az. betw. a Buck’s head erazed in chief, and a cross couped and pierced, or, in base.”
After some interpretation the following was designed: an orange-red shield with silver/azure checkerboard crossing diagonally, a stag on the upper right, and a gold cross with a hole on the lower left. This emblem was introduced as a radiator decoration in 1937 models.
In 1959, one shield became three, as blue and white (sometimes light grey) shields accompanied the red one, each representing one of the brand’s models: the LeSabre (red), the Invicta (grey), and the Electra (blue).
During the mid-1970s, Buick replaced the shields with the emblem of a hawk named “Happy” in conjunction with the launch of the Buick Skyhawk. However, when the model was retired in the 1980s, so was the hawk emblem, and the Tri-Shield was resurrected.
Today, the Buick’s three shields have lost their patriotic colors and are chrome silhouettes of what they once were. The silver chrome indicates purity, dignity, and sophistication. However, there has been word of Buick redesigning this logo. Could the Tri-Shield be replaced? Only time will tell!
Enjoy learning about the Buick logo? Check out the rest of The News Wheel’s “Behind the Badge” series to learn about other auto brands!
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Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing… See more articles by Aaron.