Why does every Porsche look like a Porsche?

Here’s a little taste of what chief designer Michael Mauer, head of Style Porsche, said on the subject in the issue number 347 (Dec 2010/Jan 2011) of the Christophorus magazine (the official Porsche customer magazine):

Reiner Schloz: What should we know about the design DNA of Porsche, which is epitomized in the 911?

Michael Mauer: One always has to distinguish between brand identity and product identity. Brand identity is the styling that makes every Porsche instantly recognizable as a Porsche. Product identity makes the individual Porsche instantly recognizable. We attach great importance to both. I would venture to say that what differentiates us from the competition is that we have a clearly defined product identity.

Reiner Schloz: What principles do you follow in your work?

Michael Mauer: Our brand identity relies on many design elements that 911 incorporates. All other Porsche models have adopted them. One example is vehicle topography. Viewed from the front, the bulge of the fenders is consistently higher than the engine hood, and the headlights are mounted near the ends of the fenders. The joint line of the front hood is always V-shaped. And there isn’t a single Porsche that combines all the lighting functions in the main headlamps. Instead, we always have a second headlamp element, which we call the Bugleuchte (front lamp). Every Porsche has low air intakes and no radiator grille. That’s even true in the front-engine models, the Cayenne and the Panamera. And they all have very brawny rear shoulders due to the prominent side panels.
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My 2¢: One of your most important jobs is to differentiate your product/service so that your target audience sees it as being unique. Why is this important? How much time do I have? Not much? Okay, because differentiation is like oxygen – if it’s not there then it’s all people notice.