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.
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…