For those unfamiliar with motorcycles, Buell is a subsidiary of Harley Davidson that, after holding a minority stake in the company for five years, took a majority stake in 1998. Buell was started by the ex-Harley engineer Erik Buell, a former AMA Formula 1 motorcycle racer who was building his own bikes (the first Buells were built for that race). There are a couple of reasons that this rebranding is close to my heart, one of which is that I recently considered Buell’s range of cycles (though I ended up with a Guzzi).
The previous Buell logo was a poorly conceived, easily dated emblem. With its Impact-inspired typography, it always seemed somewhat immature in its execution — a quality not unheard of when discussing Buell’s bikes. Somehow they never seemed to achieve the same status in the market as much of their main competitors, despite making sound machines. That said, this new identity is a clear maturation. The shield forms a containing shape with clear intention. The gothic, italic, all-caps typography, while still not firing on all cylinders, speaks directly to speed and refinement. And finally the other reason I appreciate this rebranding: the pegasus. A creature born out of the beheading of Medusa. Visceral, primal, capable of flight — everything a sport bike strives to inspire. Though truth be told, the real reason for my affinity comes from the rebirth of the Pegasus as a symbol related to motoring. Mobil once employed this symbol to represent their brand, and our local gas station growing up had one adorning the garage.
Speaking of Mobil and pegasus (pegasi?) logos, Buell at one point attempted to use a logo with a pegasus, inspired by Buell’s family coat of arms and Mobil’s logo. From what I gather Harley-Davidson retired the pegasus logo due to its similarity and some time later an abstracted version of the pegasus logo was also used briefly. So while perhaps not original in its conception, given the many stallions and horsepower references in the motor world, grabbing the retired pegasus by the wings and giving it flight yields a potent rebrand.