Formula 1 unveils new logo and branding

New F1 logo

Formula 1 have officially unveiled their new logo following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, that heralds a new era for the sport heading into 2018. Formula One Management worked in collaboration with Wieden+Kennedy London to design the logo and associated typeface. The logo is one of the three that we expected to see following the designs logged with the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office, except with a red influence.

Speaking to Creative Review, Richard Turley, who led on the project at W+K, appears to suggest that the work was an indirect result of the Global F1 Fan Survey conducted earlier this year. The piece is a fascinating look at how the logo as developed, from initial concepts through to the final version, also pointing out that W+K initially looked to refine the current logo that Carter Wong had designed, but moved away from that idea.

Formula 1’s commercial chief Sean Bratches elaborates on why the sport have moved away from the Carter Wong design. In an interview with Motorsport.com, Bratches says “You cannot stitch the old logo chevron to the right. A number of brands, particularly in this day and age, are trying to simplify their marks to enter the digital space. Look at Starbucks, or Coca Cola which has taken the condensation off their logo to enter digital. We felt we had to go a little bit further and really retool to position us on a going forward basis.” Bratches also says that the negative space of the Carter Wong design “does not work well in digital.”

The strategy all came out of that intensive fan-focused [activity]. That was the starting point, then we could write a brief in and around what the identity needed to do. Perhaps one of the problems that [F1] inherited is that they had a logo but they didn’t really have an identity. What [Formula 1] wanted was something that was simple. – Richard Turley, speaking to Creative Review

The final design, according to Ellie Norman, who is Formula 1’s Head of Marketing, “takes inspiration from the low profile shape of the car, two cars crossing a finish line.” The idea of the new logo is for it to be flexible, so although red is currently in the designs, it may be that the colour changes depending on location, or on the race victor. Supplementing the new logo is three different typefaces designed by Marc Rouault, with the F1 Regular typeface expected to make its way onto the World Feed for 2018 based on the snippets in the Creative Review article.

Analysis
In my opinion, the typefaces produced by Rouault are the highlight as it currently stands. The pit in and out addition to the timing wall looks promising, although it remains to be seen how his typefaces will look on television (see the foot of this article for a preview). In any form of art, you should be looking to better the incumbent, and I am unconvinced that the new logo does that. For a world-class brand, the logo does not feel like one that represents a world-class sport.


Reading the quotes from Bratches, the comparisons with Starbucks and Coca Cola feel odd. Both brands refined their logo, by evolving their previous concepts. Neither brand decided to overhaul their logo completely, which is what Formula 1 have chosen to do. For me, it feels like a detachment from the past, a deliberate one to move away from the Bernie Ecclestone era.

In terms of the three designs we saw, it could have been worse. But I also feel that it could have been so much better. The logo does not shout ‘F1’ to me. Maybe it will in three months’ time…

2018 World Feed mock-up.png

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5 thoughts on “Formula 1 unveils new logo and branding

  1. It doesn’t work for me and I don’t understand the PR waffle they’ve came out with either.
    I would be surprised if a non F1 follower would recognise it as F1, I don’t mind change if it’s for the better, but I can’t see where this new logo is an improvement over the old one.

  2. Designer here, so I’ll reserve my criticism until I’ve seen the brand as a package. A brand identity is always bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s not just the logo – it’s the typefaces, colours and other parts that create the feeling.

    That said, it seems F1 haven’t learned the lessons of several other big brands, which is that to “launch” a new logo (especially after 20-odd years) is never going to end well. Better to do what the Premier League did, and just do it. It’s their company, and it’s up to them what they do with it. Ironically, Ellie Norman talks about the logo being fit for the digital era. Which is odd, because (unlike the new Premier League logo) the new F1 logo does not work at small sizes. Go on Twitter and look at the logo in the little profile image. It doesn’t work at all. The old one did, despite the fact that the only platform it needed to work on was the TV.

    Speaking professionally (briefly,) the previous logo wasn’t the best – but it had a strong concept. Typographically it was weak and needed a bit of an evolution. But overall it was a strong distinctive mark. I’m not sure you can say the same for the new one, which bears some resemblance to other motorsport categories.

    I think by far the funniest part of this is that people were clamoring for a change. Bernie always focused on keeping things premium and high end, as is befitting of a top class sport. Now he’s gone and Liberty are starting to “give the fans what they want” they’ll start to resist them aiming stuff at da kidz. I’ll wait here with my popcorn for further fallout 😀

    • I see what you say about waiting for the full package. Given the explanation of what it is supposed to show I think this logo may come into its own in the intro sequence at the 5 minute mark before the race. You can definitely imagine how that will go with two lines racing each other to make the logo at the end. I also think it may work if it is animated during the race, transforming into the new graphics etc. That being said a graphics set like that will quickly alienate people (much like the logo itself)

      • I actually think that’s why F1 did this now. If they’d done it in Melbourne, they’d face a season of moaning. Doing this now means people will largely quieten down by the time we get to 2018. So if anything, the timing is very smart.

        If I have one message for this board and the F1 community, it’s this: “give it time – you might like it” In fact, I’d love David to do a round up after 3-4 races of the reactions, and even some before/after opinions. It would make an amazing case study. I’d put serious money on some of the same people who “hate” the logo now, getting used to it or even growing to quite like it.

        For example, I can think of several other unpopular rebrands where exactly that happened – Airbnb, Nickelodeon, and Starbucks. Even that last one – the Starbucks logo evolution – is a classic example of evolving a brand in a really smart way. Now you look at that logo and say “yeah man, that looks great – makes complete sense.” But guess what? Thousands of people wrote in asking for the complicated older one to be brought back. Now you’d think they were crazy. But the truth is, when you see the future, it doesn’t look like what you expect. And that’s kinda the point.

        Like I say, I won’t join the pile on until I’ve seen it in action for at least 3-4 races. The overall package might be good, or it might not – but it really is too early to say. I have some concerns about how it will be used across different platforms, and the way they are proposing to use type – but it’s very very early days.

  3. I think the poll needs a middle option. I don’t like it or dislike it at this point.

    And like the new Hockenheim, a lot of people don’t like it in comparison to what came before and don’t consider the merits individually.

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