A Brand in a Starter Button

All of a sudden, Aston Martin is the "It" brand of the automotive world.  To be sure, the Aston Martin of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s had a certain cachet, but it was a cigar-smoke-and-over-stuffed-leather-chairs-British-men’s-club kind of cachet.  No more.  Now Aston Martin is sexier than Ferrari, sportier than Porsche, manlier than Lamborghini.  The new DB9 is the first modern GT car design of the 21st century. 

This is a true brand renaissance, brought about not by the machinations of a branding firm or an advertising agency, but via  a product development team that reached back to the golden days of Roy Salvadori and James Bond, distilled the essence of Aston Martin into something actionable, and then went to work. 

Easy for me to say, but what does it mean, and how did they do it?  They did it by taking something as familiar as the process of starting the motor and asking "What could be uniquely Aston Martin about this experience?"  Here’s what Aston Martin designer Sarah Maynard says about the start button on the new DB9:

seemed wrong to us that most car starter buttons – the first point of
contact between driver and engine – is a plastic button. We wanted
something better so decided on crystal-like glass. The Aston Martin
logo is sand etched into it. It’s lit red when the ignition is on, and
afterwards changes to light blue. I think it’s a really cool piece of

Glass.  Etching.  Not the usual way of doing business.  More expensive than plastic.  But special, and evocative of the way British cars used to be.  And incredibly good for the Aston Martin brand, and perhaps even a good reason to spend so much on a car.  This is great example of decisions made using not the data of a cost accountant, but with the judgment and deep experience of a trained designer who lives and feels and loves brand.

2 thoughts on “A Brand in a Starter Button

  1. the first time i saw a new aston martin in the flesh, a 2002 vanquish, my friend and i sat in his garage and started the car 3 times in a row just because the experience was so damn cool. the sound that comes after you push the glowing starter button is more reminiscent of a 60’s F1 car than a modern GT touring coupe.
    the unfortunate part of these cars is that ford still dips into the parts bin and recycles the occasional component. so your have machined aluminum bezels surrounding jaguar ventilation control knobs. recycling only works when the donor car kicks butt, for example the range rover using MANY components from the 7 series parts bin.
    i have heard the DB9 is better in this regard though.

  2. An Aston cool?
    It’s a car for 50 year olds who think Porkers are too flashy or hardcore :cough: , a Lambo has no luggage space and a Ferrari is too expensive.
    Oscar India for me, UK’s muscle car par excellence.
    Now the Rapide, that’s something else. It is now (or will be) what the Espada was in the 70s.
    But all IMO.

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