Andrew Franceschini, 45
Senior group manager, corporate strategy and market research, Hyundai Motor America
Big break: Meeting Flaurel English, a co-worker at Toyota and market research firm GfK, and benefiting from her mentorship, thought partnership and friendship
What’s in a name? Well, a lot when you’re trying to christen a new vehicle.
Andrew Franceschini, Hyundai Motor America’s senior group manager of corporate strategy and market research, said it’ a process that is “a little bit art and science.”
Franceschini has been at Hyundai since only January 2018, but he’s already had the chance to help name a product that’ll be a key cog in its lineup as the brand vies for position in the utility market: the upcoming three-row Palisade.
He said the big crossover continues Hyundai’s strategy of using names from Western locales for its utility vehicles (see Santa Fe, Tucson). Hyundai’s latest entry took inspiration from California’s Pacific Palisades, an affluent area near Malibu.
“We also look at how the vehicle is positioned and what we think would be a good fit of where we want the vehicle to sit in the market,” Franceschini said of the naming process. “For Palisade, we wanted something that conveyed strength and size.”
When deciding on a name, Franceschini said, trademark searches must be done in the U.S. and wherever else the vehicle will be sold. Then more research must be done, including looking into whether a name has cultural meanings in the various markets.
Brainstorming sessions for Franceschini’s team yielded 20 to 30 name possibilities.
“We’ll usually do some external research. The first is with our owner panel,” he said. “These are Hyundai owners who’ve agreed to let us send them questions to get their thoughts, then we go out to a [general population] panel as well to get a broader feel of how the name resonates.”
No two days are alike for the 45-year-old former Toyota marketer, whose last role with that company was national manager of vehicle marketing and communications.
He spent 15 years with Toyota but didn’t make the move to Plano, Texas, when its North American headquarters relocated. He kept in contact with former Toyota colleagues who found new jobs with Hyundai. He jumped at the chance to join Hyundai when a role that fit his skill set opened.
The move presented a stark shift in brand positioning. While Toyota sits on the summit of the industry, he said, Hyundai fights perception issues and has a lot to prove.
“We’ve had some challenges in the past,” he said, “but we’ve come a long way, and a lot of third-party studies have validated how far we’ve come. [We’re] trying to find the best way to convey that with consumers.”
— Vince Bond Jr.