By on January 8, 2020

Cadillac’s recent decision to move its corporate emblem to the top of the grille was, apparently, a very controversial one. While older models carried the badge dead center, current models have allowed the symbol to creep nearer to the hood latch. We failed to notice any riots in the streets over the change, but Cadillac Society contends there are a contingent of customers who don’t appreciate the new look.

It also has the answers for why General Motors thought the modification necessary.

It doesn’t take a PhD in visual design to figure out why, though. Due to Cadillac moving away from vertical headlamps, a central emblem would look a little goofy — kind of like it does on present-day Acuras. While we’ll admit that the new badge placement was initially unsettling, akin to the creeping mole featured on Prince John in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, it was likely the correct choice.

Speaking with several GM designers, Cadillac Society said the decision ultimately came down to how weird the new models would look with a centrally mounted emblem:

When looking at the front end of a vehicle, the observer tends to notice more prominent styling elements first, such as the headlamps, which form the “book ends” of a grille. In order to create a natural horizontal line between the headlamps, the badge is placed higher on the grille, thereby visually connecting the headlamps and creating a balanced appearance.

Conversely, placing the logo centrally on the grille would mean that it would be positioned toward the bottom end of the front end, which is lower than the aforementioned horizontal line between the headlamps. Not only would doing so remove the alignment of the logo and the headlamps, but it would also make it look like the logo is “falling”.

The emblem is also no longer surrounded by a wreath, like it was back when you were cruising around in your STS. It’s wider these days, allowing for a more at-home look higher on the grille. To better illustrate this point, here’s an image of the current Cadillac CT5 (left) with a mockup of how it might look with center-mounted branding (right).

While not heinous, the lower placement does look a bit off, disrupting that visual flow Cadillac was looking for to achieve better brand cohesion. The CT6 also has a fairly modest grille in relation to other Cadillac models. With all that negative space, the manufacturer had to either shift the badge up a few inches or make it bigger. Its final decision was arguably the more tasteful option. We previously mentioned Acura’s visual missteps, but Mercedes-Benz can also be faulted for going overboard with gigantic branding — especially now that its emblems can be illuminated (for those who don’t believe in subtlety).

But beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Are you one of those people who found the evolving emblem placement unsettling, or is the new way better?

[Images: General Motors]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

32 Comments on “Reasons Behind Cadillac Emblem ‘Controversy’ Finally Explained...”

  • avatar


    Me, I’d bring back the old round wreath-and-crest, and flush mount it in the center of the front edge of the hood.

  • avatar

    Oh .

    I thought you were going to explain where the ducks went…..


  • avatar

    Such an argument, to me, is ridiculous! It wasn’t that long ago (Ok, maybe 40 years) when the emblem sat above the nose, not on the bodywork at all, much less the grille.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t have noticed anything if it wasn’t pointed out.

    Frankly let’s bring back the hood ornament.

    Otherwise I’m a big fan of the just spell it out way of things. Like Porsche has been doing. I think also Volvo. Or old truck tailgates.

    A nice C A D I L L A C across the front or read would look good. Or bring back the cursive.

    Of course I also believe Cadillacs should be big and brash and cushy inside and out beyond anything reasonable. Clearly General Motors and I are not on the same page.

  • avatar
    Adam Tonge


  • avatar

    I stopped liking their logo when they killed the ducks. When they had ducks, the name Cadillac was used as a Verb and Adjective.

  • avatar

    I see what they’re going for, but I’d put it in the center. The emblem is roughly the same shape as the grill, so in the center it’s framed nicely. The effect is lost when you move it up.

  • avatar

    I’d bring back the wide “V” that used to be under the Cadillac crest till the mid 80’s, since it seems that they’ve retired the laurel wreath permanently. It’d be a good addition since contemporary Cadillac (wisely or not) has sporty aspirations and the V series is the designation they’re using for high performance models.

  • avatar

    That’s a pic of that new Cadillac XC90… Nooo wait. The XC90 has much more hp/tq than that with two less cylinders. I don’t care what emblem you put on it. Try harder GM.

  • avatar

    Never gave it the time of day. They decrested the logo and that was for specious reasons. Who knew that they spent time moving the logo location while not making their cars luxurious or good looking?

  • avatar

    Is this literally a “re arrange the Deck Chairs on the Titanic” article ?

  • avatar

    To me, this shows that the emblem and the front end of the vehicle are not cohesive in design.

  • avatar

    White people: “we have nothing else to worry about, so let’s worry about the vertical placement of the emblem on a Cadillac car.”

    Do y’all know how absolutely asinine you look? From writing this story to commenting on it.

  • avatar

    White people are not even aware what Cadillac is. They drive Mercedes, BMW or Audi, or Camcord if they are broke. If you wonder – I am not white and therefore I drive Ford.

  • avatar

    But wait, you commented also.
    So you become double asinine.

  • avatar

    And yet…

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    I don’t know any white people thad drive or worry about Cadillac. Not stirring a racist pot…just an honest observation.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    The real question isn’t why is the emblem at the top of the grille…It is why is there a Cadillac emblem on the grille of that Hyundai?

  • avatar

    CaddyDaddy does not Drive or care about any new Cadillacs. Until the return of the Hood Ornament with a proper Crest and Wreath, a large V-8, and BOF construction, it just ain’t going to happen. I need that hood ornament, it guides me home.

  • avatar

    I’d suggest they spend more time and money on their failing car business than this marketing nonsense.

  • avatar

    With the badge up high the grill looks like a hillbilly with one tooth.

  • avatar

    Emblem position is a real problem at Cadillac!

  • avatar

    Simple solution to all the problems at Cadillac:

    Jack up Cadillac ornament.
    Replace car.
    Then replace the ornament.
    Job well done.

    While they’re at it, they can bring back the six sitting ducks.

  • avatar

    Cadillac. I have been granted temporary custody of a 2003 DeVille 30 miles away with a no-start condition (my first Northstar!). Runs fine on starter fluid. Zero pressure at fuel rail (fuel delivery issue). Fuel pump fuse (under back seat) shows good continuity. Fuel pump ordered (a whopping 60 bucks). Relieved to find that the fuel pump is accessible from the trunk (meaning on-site replacement vs. tow).

    Oh, sorry – logos. Based on this article, I will be relocating the alligator on all my shirts upward by 5/8 inch, because I hate to fall behind the trendsetters at Cadillac.

  • avatar

    “Due to Cadillac moving away from vertical headlamps, a central emblem would look a little goofy”

    No it wouldn’t the picture to the right looks fine if not worlds better. This another crackhead design decision.

    The better question is, when will Cadillac be free of is bipolar abusive parent General Motors?


  • avatar

    I thought you were going to say it was related to front-mounted radar for SuperCruise, but instead it is merely for styling reasons? Ok.

  • avatar

    Both look “okay” at a glance. While I considered it further, the centered emblem looks a bit off – quite possibly for the design reasons that were explained. Still, not bad or wrong; just off. I may not be a lawyer, but I know what law suits me.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I would never have considered purchasing a Cadillac, but now that they’ve moved the badge up higher in the grille, I’m all in.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Cadillac is no longer an aspirational brand regardless of ones race or nationality and if the only way Cadillac can raise awareness of their brand is to raise controversy over the placement of their emblem then this just proves my point. GM should just pack it up and become a Chinese company.

  • avatar

    “…No longer does man have to suffer with paper maps and dead reckoning. The stars adorning the heavens are there just for decoration these day…”
    This is what’s a little sad about modern technology. There is no longer any sense of discovery.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Kruser: My grandmother had an early ’70s Imperial coupe. From my perspective, it had “nicer” (in...
  • bullnuke: Who is talking about Thai? I made a comment on infotainment displays. One should never eat anything while...
  • DenverMike: It’s not relevant. Screens can be a pain, but we’re talking an annoyance. Playing with them...
  • Ol Shel: But will Dodge’s electric muscle cars still be the go-to for driving into crowds?
  • Ol Shel: Humans seek convenience and disengagement, and we fiercely resist the removal of those conveniences. Deaths...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber