By Thomas Wagner
At the International Motor Show in Frankfurt am Main, Volkswagen didn’t just present their new electric vehicle models– the company also unveiled a revised logo and a new brand identity.
With its decision to concentrate entirely on electric mobility for its future vehicles, Volkswagen has clearly entered a new era: an era in which the future is electric, fully networked and CO2-neutral. In terms of technology, the modular electrical building block platform (MEB) will define the entire Group for many years, probably decades to come. Obviously, such a fundamental shift would also change the company’s brand and brand communication strategy.
Which is why Volkswagen took the opportunity at the recently concluded IAA in Frankfurt am Main to showcase not only its new, fully electric ID.3 model, but also its new logo and brand identity. Jürgen Stackmann, Member of the Brand Management Board for Sales, Marketing and After Sales, confirms that “The brand is undergoing a far-reaching transformation, formulating new content requirements and developing new products aimed at delivering an emission-free future for everyone on the planet. Now is the right time to reveal our brand’s new approach to the outside world”.
The logo has been reduced to its essential components.
To present Volkswagen to the whole world as being «more modern and more authentic», the refreshed brand design shows a clear focus on greater flexibility and digital applications. The redesigned logo has been reduced to its essential components: with its flat, 2D look it appears slimmer and more graphic, focussing on the core information. It comes across as being almost immaterial. Klaus Bischoff, Volkswagen’s chief designer, who was significantly involved in developing the new corporate identity, describes the new design as follows:
‘’With the new brand design, we have created an authentic communications platform for the emotional presentation of e-mobility. We are revealing the Volkswagen of the future, according to the motto of “digital first” and “no filters”. Because it has become extremely important to be recognised in digital media, in the future the logo will be able to be positioned flexibly with the new “moving frame”. Also in the future the colour palette, previously limited to blue and white, will be supplemented with a second blue tone and will allow additional colour variants.
The new look and feel applies to both passenger cars and commercial vehicles, and is intended to make the New Volkswagen visible and tangible in the future, both in vehicle design and in customer contact and corporate image.’’ Jochen Sengpiehl, Volkswagen’s Chief Marketing Officer, explained: ‘’We have established a new global brand experience on all channels and across all touch points. In the future we will no longer aspire to convey a perfect, promotional world. Instead we want to make our presence more human and vibrant, to adopt the customer’s perspective to a greater extent and tell authentic stories.”
In short, the brand wants to appear more human and vibrant. The focus will be less on the cars, and more on the customer’s mobility experience. It remains to be seen how successful this change of perspective will be in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal.
The concept was a joint effort between design and marketing.
Remarkably, the strategic principles behind the new brand image were not developed by external agencies, but by a joint Volkswagen design and marketing team. The concept was completed in just nine months using a dedicated “Power House Concept” involving all areas of the company. A total of 19 internal teams and 17 external agencies were took part in the process. As this rebranding is one of the largest in the worldwide automotive industry – affecting 171 markets in 154 countries – the transition will take place in several phases. Some 70,000 logos will be replaced for more than 10,000 dealers and service partners. The roll-out should be completed by the middle of next year.
Light is the new chrome, and the brand speaks with a female voice.
Rebranding changes, however, are by no means limited to the logo. For the first time Volkswagen will use a sound logo instead of a brand claim to make the brand audibly recognisable, both in the vehicles and in communications. The days when the Group was represented by a male voice are over – the brand is now becoming female, at least for listeners. In almost all markets, a woman will “speak for Volkswagen in a warm, sympathetic and self-confident voice.”
The brand also wants to distance itself from the past in its visual language; the aim is to become more courageous and colourful, to move away from perfectionism in vehicle photography and present “realistic situations in which the customers can recognise themselves”. And, last but not least, in keeping with digitalisation and the immaterial aspects of future mobility, –light itself will become a central element of communication. In future the logo will be illuminated – not only on the vehicle, but also at the brand’s locations and dealerships. For Volkswagen, it’s a case of: “Light is the new chrome”.
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Article by ndion