With the season opener to the 2018 FIA Formula 1 championship in Melbourne coming this weekend, fans will enjoy the spectacle with Widen + Kennedy’s re-branding in place for the first time. This the first re-branding F1 has had in over 30 years.
During this time, famous names such as Apple, IBM and Canon have made big changes to their branding. For F1 this has remained resolutely unchanged.
So why the change now? One motivation is a change in management: for the first time since the late 1970’s, F1 is not being run by the one-man-band of Bernie Ecclestone and has moved to the stewardship of the American group Liberty Media. And if there’s one thing our fellow Americans are good at, it’s putting on a show – and that’s exactly what it’s planning on doing.
Other than the re-branding, there’s been several other changes in F1 by Liberty Media – such as the axing of grid girls and the replacement of the incredibly famous ‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac. with a theme tune produced by Brian Tyler (famously known for working on The Fast and Furious and Ironman soundtracks). You can see where Liberty Media is heading!
Let’s look at the old and new side by side. The red part of the old logo (left) is not actually a “1”; this is in fact created by the negative space in the middle. Mind. Blown.
Moving on to the new logo, it’s clear to see Widen + Kennedy’s direction. It’s low, sleek, futuristic, aerodynamic and looks fast, even when it’s static. The raidus and proportions across the typographic elements look clear to be influenced by the corners and bends of the race calendars circuits – but rendered in a typically minimal, modern design. It’s very cleverly worked out and feels like an amalgamation of ideas fusing together perfectly.
Naturally, the reaction to the change has been brutal with even the drivers themselves pitching in their dislikes. Maybe this reaction is to be expected given the long association between the old logo and the heroes of the sport; but Liberty Media is trying to appeal to a younger audience, one that’s maybe not so bothered about the legends of the past?
Remember when Instagram re-branded and the change was initially disliked by everyone?
We tend to put our guard up when there’s change to something we love, but we learn to warm to it in the end.
Here’s some further application of F1’s new branding –
Now we’ve seen more examples of the new branding and indeed the 2018 season trailer (above), many have picked up on what could have been a key influence on Widen + Kennedy’s design – no other than the PlayStation game Wipeout.
Playstation released Wipeout, a futuristic racing game set in 2052, in the mid 90s and its futuristic look was created by graphic design studio The Designers Republic. This game was not only brilliant for its time but looks to be a key influence on how Liberty media and Widen + Kennedy envisaged the look of F1. After all, we have to take our inspiration from somewhere – can you see the similarities?
Racing fans are watching Formula 1 very closely and more of the new branding will be unveiled from the 22nd – 25th of March for the first race. I am excited about it; I think the new look is fresh, sleek and long overdue.
But let’s see if this branding lasts another 30 years; if so you can expect another blog entry from me in 2048.