Launched earlier this month, Adient is the spin-off of Johnson Controls Automotive Experience, a global leader in automotive seating components and systems. That’s right, there is a leader in this world in the field of seats for cars. With more than 200 locations worldwide, Adient provides single components or complete seat systems to more than 50 million cars per year for brands like Audi, General Motors, Ford, and BMW. The company’s new identity has been designed by the New York, NY, office of Futurebrand.
To dial up Adient’s point of difference from their competitors, we positioned the brand around their unique approaches and capabilities—processes that deliver the best seats and the most value for their customers. We established a clear, distinctive brand strategy that shifted the core positioning from a technically focused story to a more compelling and differentiating center of gravity. We coupled this idea with a new personality for the brand befitting of an industry leader—and a trusted partner.
Conducting business worldwide, this new company needed a distinct name with universal appeal—fast. Given the complexity of global trademarking, FutureBrand jumped the hurdles necessary to deliver a name that translated across 17 languages in over 50 countries, clearing the 9 trademark classes the name needed within 3 short months.
The company’s competitive spirit propelled them to an unrivaled leadership role within their industry while still under Johnson Controls. The name Adient, defined as “accepting or moving positively towards a situation or a stimulus” embodies this focus and ambition. This bold, energetic name supports the company’s growth trajectory for the business moving forward as well as their potential expansion into adjacent markets and industries.
Naming is far from my expertise or even range of previous work experience and I get that it’s not easy, particularly when trying to come up with a global name that will clear all kinds of trademark hurdles but when I hear “Adient” I don’t think of anything at all. Perhaps “Gradient” but that’s useless in this review. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that the name conjures no association to car seats, driving, or roads. The same way “Kleenex” has nothing to do with facial tissues, of course, and how it’s the association over time between name and product that creates that connection so I’ll be the first to admit that whether I make the connection or not between this name and product is moot at this point. Still, there is a tinge of corporate emptiness to the name that’s hard to shake.
As the industry leader that strives to get everything precisely right, Adient’s logo is designed to do the same. Mirroring the lines on a highway and the leather stitching on a seat, the logo’s distinct, forward-looking form sets the pace for their new look and drives Adient’s entire visual identity.
Every component of their logo, down to the rounded, approachable letters are stripped to their essence - feeling confident and focused. Like a compass, the angular “A” is both measured and meticulous. And with bright green precision lines on either side, this leading letter has even more direction.
Although there was a semblance of an old logo, it was mostly the Johnson Controls center with some dry type underneath making it not even eligible for being called a logo. The new logo is a simple wordmark where the “A” is used to carry the story, representing a road’s lane divider as well as a the stitching of a car seat, which are two concepts very wide apart. It mostly resembles lane dividers to me, which makes the logo look it’s for a transportation company and, while to a degree it is, it doesn’t quite say “we make car seats”. The execution is nice though… would have personally added a tiny bit more spacing between the “A” and the two diagonals to let it breathe better.
Adient’s brand colors help them stand out - both among competitors and across different cultures. With green signifying new beginnings and growth in many countries, the palette is decidedly future focused.
Simple yet robust, Adient Sans is an ideal global font. Since their communications need to span continents and cultures, this typography is both highly legible and incredibly functional - easily adapting to accommodate different languages across a variety of mediums. Echoing the confident structure and rounded letters of their logo, it feels focused and genuine - just like their brand.
Based on forms found in their logo, the new graphic elements feel undeniably accurate. Each of the three graphic patterns - called Precision line, Pinpoint and Anchor - embodies the Adient approach: rhythmically repetitive and exact.
The identity elements are well thought out and the patterns look really nice… those do remind of car seat textures or detailed fabric patterns. The custom type family is a good complement to the logo (and it’s not You-know-what-ular). Using photographs that show a clear angle is a good way of extending the forward motion of the logo… although I imagine a few years down the road, the in-house team running out of things to photograph or crop at an angle.
We designed Adient’s internal environments as a welcoming window into the brand’s strategy and visual identity. Adient’s personality attributes were translated into experience principles to guide and inspire the work. The spaces were designed to educate employees and visitors, promote positive perceptions of Adient, and help people experience the brand in a tangible and exciting way.
All the applications are very nicely done with an aesthetic that feels corporate yet vibrant. Whether it’s because of the private jet picture or the bearded rich guy in the brochure cover, there is a slight pretentiousness to the identity and perhaps that’s fine as Adient is not making car seats for tractors but with the increased distaste for 1% opulence and lack of diversity, perhaps this leans too heavy towards exclusive luxury. The one moment of levity is a LEGO (or LEGO-style) promo that assembles into a car seat and the box it comes in is pretty sweet and serves as a strong summary of the identity elements. Overall, the identity has a heavy corporate vibe that works well to make Adient appear that it’s not just ready for business but that it’s been in business long enough to display confidence.