“Four Rings to Rule Them All”
Established in 1969, Audi is a German automobile manufacturer that designs, engineers, produces, markets, and distributes luxury cars. But you already knew that. Just stating the obvious for the record. Last year, almost to the date, Audi introduced the flat version of their logo and while tips floated in and out of my inbox there was no concrete case study about it nor did it seem like something that was going to stick for the long run. Earlier this year, though, Audi published a very comprehensive, very nicely crafted brand portal that explains the identity approach in detail. The project was carried out collaboratively by Stuttgart- and Berlin-based Strichpunkt and Munich-based KMS TEAM.
For Audi we have developed a corporate design, which is consistently »digital first« in its concept and design. We took a truly holistic, interdisciplinary approach to creating design principles for all media and devices.
The new brand appearance is flexible and modular in the sense of the »atomic design«, rules are reduced to a minimum. In this way, today’s and future devices can be designed so that an overall brand experience is given. At the same time it allows plenty of scope for creative diversity.
The result is a modern design and interaction principle for Audi. Dynamic principles replace rigid rules. The brand portal we designed has gone online in early 2017. It is accessible to everyone – an innovation in the automotive industry, and a symbol of new openness.
We last talked about Audi in 2009 when they introduced their new custom type family designed by Bold Monday and when they gave their rings a polish. That was also the time when Audi dropped its distinctive wordmark. With this latest iteration they drop the wordmark altogether and let the rings become the logo. In the process they have de-polished them and gone flat. If this version of the logo were introduced today as a new logo it would probably get demolished but, naturally, because it has the equity of years of use and the association with some of the finest (affordable-ish) cars on the road the simplicity of these rings is well supported. It’s also the most natural evolution for a luxury brand, moving into a confident, flat design.
The type family has expanded to include a couple of variations designed to perform on digital devices and this is still one of my favorite corporate type families around. I’m not going to go over every piece of the identity because there are far too many things and everything falls under the same conceptual, visual, and formal wavelength so I’ll just show you a few more things then encourage you to go through the brand portal so you can get the full, very detailed picture.
We started by analyzing the technical and design aspects of existing and future identity characteristics. On that basis, we developed design elements and drafted rules for their use. The result: New design principles, including free logo placement, equally weighted brand colors, imagery reflecting people’s everyday lives, and vivid typography.
There is a lot of stuff to see at the brand portal and I’m only showing a small percentage. A lot of what’s there is about the minutia and rules behind the seemingly simple applications but everything is very carefully considered, well thought out, and, most importantly, conceived in a way that is easy to implement worldwide by a vast number of dealerships, vendors, and even the in-house team. The overall design aesthetic is bold, minimal, confident, and luxurious in a way that matches Audi’s cars