Car Style Chronicles

Let’s Talk About Logotypes

Nissan is the latest automaker to redesign its logo in a long time. What implications does this type of change have?

  • The logo is one of the most influential symbols of any company’s image
  • Some automakers are changing their to better adapt to the new times
  • Doing that well earns them new consumers while keeping the current ones
2020 Ariya is the first Nissan to sport the new logo

The concept of brand is complex enough to exert influence over a complete company when it’s well-executed. It may affect production, supply chain, advertisement, customer care… as a result, it’s common to say that brands are much more than meets the eye. Nevertheless, the easily visible parts exist for a reason, of course. The logo represents much of what its company stands for.

Having that said, it’s easy to understand how important is the moment when a company changes its logo. While the action always represents change, the real question is which direction will that change follow. Will the company pursue a greener operation? Will it turn to wealthier customers? Is it simply attempting a fresh start? Everything on the logo has to express that as clearly as possible.

The Atlas Cross Sport already uses Volkswagen’s refreshed logo

How does that apply to cars?

Let’s explain it with examples. For Volkswagen, the Beetle represented its first era, the Golf was the second one and the upcoming ID lineup will be the third. The latest changes are subtle: narrower lines for letters and outer circle, a flat effect instead of the old three-dimensional appearance and, which is probably the most noticeable, the “W” is no longer attached to the circle on the bottom.

The goal here is lightness, along with the fact that there’ll be a woman saying the brand’s name on the ads. It’s an appropriate complement to electrification and the removal of excessive car and trim options, which are among VW’s top concerns nowadays. The company will seem more casual and focused on life style rather than looking poised to conquer the world and obliterate its rivals.

BMW’s redesigned logo debuted on the i4 Concept

In another part of Germany…

While BMW follows the German stereotype of being consistent, its recent logo redesign went the other way. Not so much for the lettering, whose new font is somewhat retro, nor for the central region, which still honors Bavaria through blue and white colors, but for the ring: the black one disappeared and left that part clear. In practice, the logo now comes in the same color as the car’s body.

While the vintage letters nod to BMW’s history, which is over a century old by now, the clear background is an interesting step towards flexibility: one could say every car will have a different logo. It perfectly suits the automaker’s latest decision to invest in new technologies, body styles, and energy sources and, at the same time, honor its tradition in key parts — another one is the front grille.

Fiat started to use its new logo on the trunk lid

Let’s give it an Italian touch

Even though Fiat is just as generalist as Volkswagen, it has gone through more ups and downs due to quality issues and occasional questionable style choices. As a result, every time it decides to reinvent itself, the logo gets included. The outgoing one is based on one of the first it ever used and will make room for a modern version of itself: the same font is now applied without that red shield.

Now, the letters are larger and more noticeable within the same region on the sheetmetal, which means the brand’s name is easier to see. This brings an idea of strength; a company who is more confident than ever about what it creates and sells. Interesting fact is that this trend was started by the Brazilian branch on the trunk lid; the new Strada is the very first Fiat to use it on the hood too.

Promotional video for Nissan’s new logo

Now, let’s go back to Nissan!

The Ariya crossover was chosen to use the new badge for the first time. In this case, “minimalistic” is a good definition: it became two-dimensional, received lighter lines, larger spacing between the letters and merely a hint of the thick, metal-like frame of the previous logo. While the official image shows the logo in black, the promotional video above made sure to present it in several ways.

According to Nissan, the redesign process was started in 2017 and focused on making the new logo “thin, light and flexible”. It’s now much more suitable to digital use, which has become an unavoidable trend, and it brings an unusual perk: being easier to light up with LEDs on electric models. It surely helps the company to better assert itself in a market which only gets more competitive.

Released in 2019, the Imagine Concept was the first one to use Kia’s upcoming logo

Small change, big meaning, huh?

That’s the essence of logo redesign. If the automaker changed it too much, it would weaken its own brand: customers would take time to get used to it and to recognize the company again. What they can do is to carefully plan smaller changes to make them anticipate the changes they want to execute. Kia is one of the next ones to do that, as it’s started to patent a new logo in South Korea.

As you can see, logos are small part of car design only because there are many of them: their importance is huge nonetheless. A well-designed logo becomes recognizable over generations and helps the company preserve the trust of its consumers. The goal of a carefully redesigned logo is to keep doing that while making the company capable of attracting newer generations and their trust.



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Danillo Almeida

Danillo Almeida


Content writer and engineer-to-be who aspires to work in car design. If you like cars but not the stereotypes that surround them, give my articles a try.