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The Lamborghini Brand Refresh: A New Logo, Font, and Future Direction

A beautiful Bull supported by world-class photography, but let down by a custom font: branding is tough.

The Lamborghini Brand Refresh

I’m not sure I could have told you that the Lamborghini logo was a bull before this brand refresh, though I probably could have chosen it out of a multiple choice test of car logos. In a world of chrome letters, rings, and simple emblems, the Italian car brand has always had something different on the wheel and under the hood (or trunk?). Now, they’re trying to tell us more about it.

The Evolution of Branding in the Automotive Industry

The Competitive Landscape Driving Change

Branding in the automobile industry has always been a competitive space, namely due to the fact that the fundamental offer of a vehicle is to get a person from Point A to Point B. Some cars do that cheaply, others loudly, some fast, but most just fairly comfortably. Pair that with a set of road regulations, and even if a car can go 200+mph, it’s only legal in very specific areas. 

In the early years of cars, speed did play the biggest role: helping racers break speed records, and in America, helping outlaws escape law enforcement (hello advent of NASCAR). Since the early 2000s, however, automobile companies have been looking more and more into the type of transportation they offer (experience) and even more into how they transition into transportation as a service (which comes on the heels of Uber, Lyft, and other rider share services).

Early Innovators Audi & Ford

The first modern car brand I remember making this transition was Audi in 2016. They made a small shift from their chrome-styled four-ring logo to a more simple rendering and included what has become industry standard: a custom font. The new Audi brand seemed small at the time but positioned them as a leader in grappling with the new digital space of transportation—from their marketing to how users interact with the vehicle, it’s all becoming more digital.

Even as far back as 1966, Paul Rand designed a proposed logo for Ford that was more modern, more adaptable, and more forward thinking than the current brand today. Writing in his proposal about the Ford logomark, Rand said:

If one were to choose but one flaw it would be that it is incongruous in point of time with its environment. It is neither perfectly compatible with the kind of product it represents, nor can it be easily reconciled with contemporary typography and design.
Pages from Paul Rand's Ford Brand Identity proposal from 1966.

While Rand may not have known that cars would eventually be controlled via an electronic screen, he was keen to the fact that even then, a company like Ford was more than just a car manufacturer.

Analyzing the Lamborghini Rebrand

Emphasizing Core Values

At the head of the launch, Lamborghini has said that the primary purpose of this brand refresh is to clarify its messaging and make the brand more transparent on all fronts. As a brand that’s been on top of a pedestal for so long, it’s refreshing to see them invite more customers into its mission, vision, and values as a company. Everytime a brand takes this approach before working on stylistic choices, they’re going to come out ahead:

The restyling is driven by a new strategy that involves adapting the brand’s visual expression to better reflect the “brave”, “unexpected” and “authentic” values of its mission, namely “Driving Humans Beyond”, a concept that translates into the intention to always go beyond the limits, standards and conventions.

Lambo Logo Redesign Done Right

Collection of Lamborghini branded visuals.

From a pure rendering perspective, Lamborghini really nailed bull which very frequently gets distorted when rendered like this. Figures that are drawn according to a light source oftentimes look great in one light combo (light on dark, for example) and then completely fall apart in the other (eg. dark on light).

Design agency Strichpunkt really figured this out by switching some of the highlights, switching some of the shadows, and even changing which objects are in light or not like the bull's horns, its chest and its tail.

New Lamborghini Bull Logo

All these things work beautifully together, except for the really terrible gold gradient one though in every rebrand there are elements (like hyper stylized gold embossing) that are hard to give up.

There’s beauty in the organic nature of the bull: that he’s still in movement and showing off power through the twist in his torso. It beautifully captures the power and elegance of a Lamborghini. To quote Rand again: 

A new logotype is not a passing fashion, but a permanent and enduring symbol, to be used again and again on countless objects, for countless people, and for countless years. Faced with the problem of designing the new house mark, the question arises, if a change is desirable, to what degree?

While the cliche gold may have made it through, so did the bull, the spirit, and the craftsmanship of the luxury car brand.

Critique of the Custom Typeface: Lambo Type

The new Lamborghini brand also comes with a tool that we're seeing from other big brands, which is a custom typeface Lambo Type. In this scenario, though, it's the weakest part of the brand refresh—it's riddled with inconsistencies and too many ideas for a single typeface.

New Lambo Font

Sure, a font can have a set of tails and terminal strokes that are slanted out pretty harshly. The car designs have similar features—the angular characters match the angularity of the cars that they put out. Those things make a lot of sense. 

But what in the world is happening with the K? Or the notch they cut out of the five? Or why are all the connection points between stems and bowls so pinched? I’d imagine it's an attempt to modernize it, make it feel like a neo grotesque, and make the typeface feel unique, but it’s overcomplicated and full of too many ideas.

Lambo Font reminiscing on car design, highlighted wonky 'K'.

The Italian brand might as well put the pasta and the meat on the same plate.

Impact and Implications for Lamborghini

Visual Identity vs. Brand Core

The new Lamborghini brand is more than just a visual identity change—it’s a strategic pivot in line with their Direzione Cor Tauri (the Italian ‘direzione’ translates to ‘direction’; the Latin term for ‘heart of the bull’, Cor Tauri, is also the brightest star of the constellation of Taurus). At Studio Ostendo, we’d just call this a brand core, but Direzione Cor Tauri makes sense for Lamborghini and personalizes the impact.

With a direction as strong as Cor Tauri, Lamborghini is sure to not only succeed, but also to gain new ground in the automobile industry.

Final Thoughts

When it first lit up my screen, I wasn’t sure that Lamborghini needed a brand refresh: do they even talk to a large enough audience to significantly impact anyone? But having read their Direzione Cor Tauri and learning more about their strategic objectives as an organization, it was the perfect move. 

If you’re taking on a brand refresh but not quite the scale of Lamborghini and need some help, give us a call. We can talk about your goals, help you outline a strategy, and give you the tools to rightfully communicate your vision.

Kaleb Dean
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Lambo Font, highlighted wonky 'k'.

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