Volkswagen has a new look. The automaker’s familiar logo is getting a makeover designed to help it enter “a new era,” according to a senior executive who helped preview the makeover at the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday.
The outgoing logo, with its “V” and “W” arranged inside a chromed circle, won’t simply vanish. In fact, some less observant eyes might not realize the design has changed. It’s simply switching to what Jürgen Stackmann, the corporate board member heading sales and marketing for the German automaker, calls a more “flat” and “two-dimensional” appearance that happens to play out better in digital designs.
On top of the logo update, VW will be getting a new “sound logo,” and not one bringing back the familiar “Fahrvergnugen” audio meme that was seemingly omnipresent in VW’s U.S. marketing efforts throughout the 1990s.
“The new brand design marks the start of the new era for Volkswagen,” said Jürgen Stackmann. “The brand is undergoing a fundamental transformation towards a future with a neutral emission balance for everyone. Now is the right time to make the new attitude of our brand visible to the outside world.”
That “fundamental transformation” has a lot to do with the German giant’s desire to put its diesel emissions scandal in the rearview mirror. Parent Volkswagen
AG has now spent more than $30 billion on fines, settlements and vehicle buybacks as a result of rigging a pair of diesel engines to illegally pass emissions tests.
While CEO Herbert Diess doesn’t want to walk away entirely from diesel technology – which still makes up a significant, albeit shrinking, portion of the European market – but the company now plans to invest over 11 billion euros to develop an array of battery-electric vehicles that will be sold through its various brands, ranging from low-end Seat and Skoda, up to high-line marques like Audi and Porsche.
Significantly, the first vehicle to display the new VW brand logo is the ID.3 hatchback making its formal debut in production form at this week’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The ID.3 is based on the automaker’s new MEB architecture, a platform that will be shared with several dozen other models over the next few years, including two battery-electric crossover vehicles that will be assembled at the VW plant in Chattanooga.
The simpler design will then start appearing on the rest of VW’s European and Chinese product lines before the end of this year, with the global switch expected to be completed by sometime in 2020.
It won’t be as simple as ordering up new badges for VW products, however. The automaker now operates in 154 different countries and will have to replace 70,000 existing brand logos, including those at 10,000 dealerships and service centers.
The new logo is part of a much broader effort, dubbed “Transform 2025+”, that includes a more compact – and much more electrified product line-up, as well as significant changes in VW’s marketing and sales strategy. Like rivals such as Ford, General Motors and Toyota, it will become more of a “mobility company” moving forward, with efforts such as the WeShare ride-sharing service and other projects.
It also is looking at new ways to deal with a generation of digitally savvy consumers. That could include more direct, online retailing – though the company is quick to emphasize that it will continue to work with dealers.
To distinguish its new marketing efforts, it has even come up with a new sound logo meant to “make Volkswagen unmistakable acoustically as well,” according to Jochen Sengpiehl, who oversees sales for the VW brand.
It’s a fairly flat and two-dimensional set of tones that, in some marketing, will be followed by the name, “Volkswagen,” in a woman’s voice. Going forward, it also will be used when people exit one of the brand’s vehicles.