Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Volkswagen Rebrands

Updated 19 Sep, 2019 10:33am
Does VW’s new logo aim to give the company an image makeover?

Coming off the back of the Diesel-gate scandal, Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automakers, has undertaken a new initiative aimed at a major image makeover. The company announced that they will re-launch their famous VW logo. The new design will take the elements of the classic logo (the letters V and W encapsulated in a circular ring) but with some major stylistic changes.

The new logo has a thinner font, is flatter, two dimensional (as opposed to the current VW logo) and monotone; as opposed to the classic three dimensional blue and silver VW combo encapsulated in a white roundel.

Although this is not the first time VW have revised their logo, the company has had nine previous renditions of the classical design since 1939. The current logo has been in place since 2000, marking an 18 year run, the longest in the company’s history. What is interesting is how Volkswagen is approaching the launch of this new logo. The company says that the new logo is part of an overall brand reorientation dubbed “Vibrant Power”. The idea is to showcase the spirit of VW as a vibrant automaker with an eye on the future and ready for a quantum leap into the next stage of their growth trajectory. Industry insiders say the logo is just one part of the company’s efforts at taking the conversation from Diesel-gate to things such as electric vehicles, autonomous driving platforms and a host of other technologies that VW is investing in, in order to stay relevant as a major automotive player as the industry continues to transform.

The new Vibrant Power branding (apart from the logo) will feature what the company calls their very first “sound logo” - said to be a unique sound that will unmistakably be VW and will make the brand standout, as it is used across several media channels and in major promotions.

Coming back to the logo, VW claims the idea was to break down the logo to its existing base elements, and then make the logo simplistic, yet dynamic enough to look great on all standard print, broadcast, and most importantly, on digital media. The company hopes the logo and its promotional accompaniments with its simple yet bold style will communicate a feeling of ease, agility and friendliness with a new generation of car buyers that value both precision engineering and technology accompaniments as equals in their driving experience. The company hopes that the latest iteration of the logo will start to be badged on new cars sometime in the middle of 2020. Prominent models reportedly scheduled to be badged with the new logo include the new VW Golf GTI as well as the new Electric Vehicle ID3 Microbus.

Perhaps the most prominent use of the new logo so far has been in the new ‘Hello Light’ commercial that VW ran to announce the launch of the Electric Power Microbus in the US. This one minute, 40 second commercial is a masterstroke, which many claim heralds the shape of VW marketing to come under Vibrant Power. The commercial opens with a VW engineer struggling with ideas with a VO overlay of news broadcasts of the company’s diesel scandal. The screen then fades to black and lights up with the redesigning of the classic VW Microbus played against the tune of Simon and Garfunkel’s iconic line Hello Darkness My Old Friend from the classic Sound of Silence. The ad culminates with the redesign of the new ID3 Microbus EV breaking out of the darkness with blazing LED lights and then cuts to the new VW logo. Industry watchers say that although the ad may seem to break the cardinal rules of advertising, the approach has worked for VW before when it introduced the VW Beetle to the US in a campaign titled Think Small. VW has undoubtedly, in the wake of Diesel-gate, taken a battering to their reputation in both the US and Europe. Will coming clean on the back of new and cleaner technology be the first step in a journey of redemption, and how much will Vibrant Power play into that mix? Only time will tell.

Tariq Ziad Khan is a US-based marketer and a former member of Aurora’s editorial team.