Transforming Formula 1 Into An Icon
A Risky Move For a Beloved Brand
It can’t be easy to revitalise a long-loved institution in need of a retool. As marketers or executives, how do you reenergise that contingent of fans married to a brand’s former glories while also cultivating interest and appeal to new generations and demographics?
The Formula 1 logo upgrade of 2017 exemplifies the beginnings of a skillfully executed brand change-up. An ambitious marketing project, fan involvement was paramount from its inception. The preliminary stages included a comprehensive fact-finding campaign to gauge the feelings of F1 fans across the world. What they uncovered surprised them — a kind of latent jadedness and pronounced disengagement due in large part to how emphasis on the technology of the cars had overtaken the humanity and personality of the drivers themselves.
F1 would begin to correct all of that by first revising its famed 30-year-old graphic as a way to inaugurate full-scale changes to the brand as a whole. In light of F1 fans whose commitment and nostalgia extends even to the marketing visuals, the roll-out had to be strategic.
F1 framed the introduction of the logo as a major event by unveiling it in Abu Dhabi as a finale and cap-off of the 2017 Grand Prix. Brilliant move. Not only did this serve as a way to ease fans into the brand’s new identity, but it gave them a sense of their own involvement in the changes.
Preservation of The Original F1 Logo?
The original F1 logo tore onto the motorsport’s scene in 1987 with an indelible graphic that reads as swift, windswept propulsion. Designer Carter Wong made precise and strategic use of negative space and a three-color scheme to create an image with a sense of sheer acceleration. Every angle and facet suggested speed and motion.
The new F1 logo tactfully pays homage to Wong’s original. It carefully steers F1 into the future while maintaining a full embrace of its past. Richard Turley’s marketing team at Wieden+Kennedy masterminded the artwork from their London headquarters.
“The impetus has been to really make [the brand] more fan-focused, to understand that that is the heart and soul and future of the sport,” explained Turley.
Side-by-side, the two logos diverge pretty drastically. But Turley’s designers endowed the new one with enough subliminal likeness that fans sense an undeniable lineage in the typeface. There’s a clear genetic tie that pulls from the heritage of the sport itself.
“Seeing that research [and] how people talked and thought about the sport enabled us to write a brief for ourselves in terms of the design and media around it.” Turley enthuses further, “The strategy all came out of that intensive fan-focused [activity]. That was the starting point.”
The new aesthetic was just the beginning, but the logo’s exuberant receptions shows how much a trademark can embody all the commitment and ambition of a transforming company. Fans see how its new look conveys the presence of a new team interested in leading them into a new era on a brand-new raceway. Buckle up, floor the gas — they’re all along for the ride.