The rebrand of Formula One

At the end of November after the dust had settled on the last race of the year F1 unveiled its rebrand to the world. At Starbots we know that a logo is a symbol that’s integral to your business. And for Liberty media the F1 rebrand represents the changes they are prepared to make to save a sport in crisis. The audience reaction was a bit of a let down to say the least.

For too many years the administration of F1 had been ignoring its audience. Since 2015 the sports websites, newspapers and radio figures had been declining. Ignited chiefly by the administration’s fixation with signing exclusive media rights to Pay TV channels. So much so that a move to Pay TV viewing had reduced global viewing figures by nearly 25% since 2010. A brand refresh, however difficult, was the only option. As the old logo represented the hijacking of a classic marque in favour of corruption, fear and profits over consumers.

40% of fans surveyed in 2016 said they regularly missed races due to them being broadcast on Pay TV only.

Rebrand graphics

The rebrand: it had to be done.

As with most classic cars the chassis of the iconic 1994 logo just couldn’t cope with the wear and tear of the modern digital and marketing road. The hidden ‘1’ that insights thoughts of chevrons and speed was simply impossible to reproduce on embroidered garments. Alone this might seem nothing more than a speeding ticket, but when you consider that in 2016 F1 fans spent $8.8m on F1 merchandise and within that 49.9% of this was spent on Caps and Polo shirts the issue becomes more important. The sport needed a logo that could be wrapped around vehicles and helmets as well as being endlessly manipulated across digital platforms. And it must do this whilst retaining brand identity at speeds of over 120mph and across a global audience.

F1’s identity is fuelled by history and long established names like Ferrari, Mercedes, Fangio and Senna to name a few. So to evolve a brand as global and engrained within the hearts of the sports fans was always going to be a hard sell. But the brand was long overdue an overhaul. The task of stripping back the brand and creating something more iconic, more recognisable and ultimately more dynamic fell to a London creative agency.

Rebranding a classic

So what do we think of the rebrand?

Unfortunately the rebrand hit somewhat of a pothole when the sports most popular driver commented

“I don’t think the new [logo] is as iconic”. And internally Daniel and Gavin represent the missing 40% from TV viewing figures. Favouring to reminisce about the good old days of Hunt and Lauda than succumb to Pay TV. But when they first discussed the rebrand they both jumped into different gears.

Daniel pulled straight into Senior Designer mode and pointed out that: “The flow of the ‘F’ looks like a track that is heading straight into a brick wall”. And his second impression was of a tap without a handle. Both of which have obvious parallels to the tired state of F1.

Gavin signalled the monumental shift in administration that preceded the rebrand: “When you think about the market place and the negative connotations that surrounded the previous logo, during recent years, it was obvious that the process of rebranding was vital to the business’s success. It’s never easy to rebrand something that evokes an emotional response, such as a sport or team that you’ve followed since you were a child, but the new logo signifies a change. And I hope the change pays off”.

And the early signs are that the rebrand is starting to pay off. In a recent survey of global fans they are now far more optimistic about the sports future. The rebrand represents the sports wish to be exciting, competitive and dynamic, but of course that is a matter of opinion. The truth will be in the viewing figures and the merchandise sales.

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