Amidst concept cars, sneak previews, and other automotive-based pyrotechnics during the New York International Auto Show this past week, Ford Motor Company quietly deployed its new logo to attendees of the show and will roll out a full unveiling later this month. For an industry where identity is everything and decades of legacy can stall any possible change, it is surprising and commendable that Ford would drive away from its script, oval logo that has been around since 1912 and sustained few visual evolutions.
Ford logo over the years.
Ford Vehicles, which share a roof under the parent company with Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Volvo, Land Rover and Jaguar does feel the most outdated and, aside from Land Rover, it’s the only logo that was simply a wordmark. So apparently, Ford should somehow match those other logos with the introduction of a new icon, dubbed “Symbiosis”. From their press release:
The current mark of the Ford Motor Company does not reflect the aesthetics of the vehicles or marketing the company has been producing over the past two decades. American auto manufacturers are struggling to regain market share and profitability, and redesigning the Ford mark is a prime way to rejuvenate interest in the brand and emphasize the bottom-up design of vehicles that has made its competitors so successful.
The strategy and identity design was developed by Detroit-based Brand Engine, a newly acquired branding firm for Omnicom Group, and it was led by Marko Savic, an independent identity designer from Ontario, Canada who joined Brand Engine specifically for this project. He explains the design:
The logo is a unique shape that flows in and out of itself, signifying motion, grids, and roadways. The wormdark is a modified version of Max 3, with strong automotive influence in the design, contrasting the smooth lines curves with sharp angles. Meta is used as the corporate typeface due to its strong versatility and international language support.
Details of the construction of the new logo and flexibility of use.
New signage to preside over all dealerships by 2010.
I have never been a fan of the old Ford logo, it seems such a strange identity for a company whose slogan is (or has been) “Built Ford Tough”… it really felt more girlie than tough. And like most car logos it had devolved into a gradient-heavy cliche of its old self. The new identity is, well, different and unexpected but it reminds of a watered down version of Scion and trying to be cool. I’m not a fan at all of the mark, it seems out of place and nostalgic. I have to admit, I do like that Max 3 font chosen, it’s authoritative and contemporary. And above all, this redesign is a nice reminder that if Ford had taken Paul Rand’s advice back in the sixties the world would be a much better place because of this proposed identity:
Proposed logo for Ford by Paul Rand, 1966
Update, April 1, 9:00 p.m.: Congratulations to “anonymous”. Indeed, this is an April Fools post. But I have to admit I never expected it to be so convincing.
This morning I woke up feeling bad that I had not prepared an April Fools post for Brand New, as much as I had wanted to. But I just didn’t have the time to imagine anything. Then, in my inbox, I had an e-mail from Marko — a long-time Brand New reader (and commenter) and a design student in Ontario — saying that he had this Ford project he had done at school and that it would be funny to use it as a prank. I hesitated but I then considered how plausible this redesign was, as opposed to saying “Hey, look, IBM rebranded!”. I made up the NY International Auto Show part, along with Brand Engine and that stupid nickname of “symbiosis”; I then proceeded to make it as complete as I would have otherwise and tried to be as ambiguous as possible with the details. The Internal 500 Server Errors were real though, that pissed me off.
I have to give major credit to Marko, it was his idea. I’m happy I was able to package it convincingly.
Thanks to everyone for humoring us.