After 23 years Formula 1 has unveiled a new logo, the first step in a complete brand redesign for the high-stakes sport. The design was inspired by feedback from fans across the globe, while the sport’s redesign and brand overhaul was led by Ellie Norman, Formula 1’s first Director of Marketing.
The visual identity, meanwhile, was created by Wieden+Kennedy London, led by Richard Turley, Global Executive Creative Director of Editorial and Design. The logo echoes the shape of a Formula 1 car: flat, low to the ground, suggesting top speeds. It’s modern-retro feel leans into the extreme and dynamic nature of the sport and is designed to work across a variety of platforms.
To learn more about the new Formula 1 logo, we talked to Norman and Turley. Check out our Q&A below.
First, why design a new logo in the first place? What was wrong with the old one?
Norman: The existing logo is iconic and synonymous with the sport – but it was built for a different era. We want to get fans closer to the action and engage with them across lots of digital platforms that didn’t exist when this was created.
It was clear we were going to need to address some fundamentals of our brand, if we were to realize our ambition to make Formula 1 a major entertainment player and claim our rights to be the global media brand we should be.
We heard from fans that they were losing love for the sport and it was becoming impenetrable, we wanted to bring those barriers down with a strong signal of change. We recognized the power of a visible change to our identity, one which will establish Formula 1 as a global brand that befits a global, digital-first media age. That means a set of behaviors that deliver personality and a new logo that can work on a multi-dimensional level are crucial components of our rebrand.
What are you hoping to convey with the new logo?
Norman & Turley: We looked at a number of different options and selected this design because we feel it speaks to the feedback we heard from fans. They wanted something which represented why they loved the sport in the first place, something which signals our ambition for a more open and inclusive sport that appeals to a much broader fanbase.
We selected the final version because it emulates two lines racing to cross the finish, bringing to life the opposing elements, in constant competition, a race that’s never finished. The new visual identity echoes the shape of a Formula 1 car – flat, low to the ground, an icon of speed rather than a diagrammatic representation of it. It has a modern-retro feel with enough aggression in its engineered sharpened edges to hint at both the technical prowess of the teams, while leaning into the extreme and dynamic nature of the sport. The shape and style embraces the timeless aesthetic and heritage of racing design and motorsport – the roundness, boldness, rebelliousness.
If any brand in the world should own this vibe, it’s Formula 1.
Are you hoping to reach a new audience with the redesigned logo?
Norman: After hearing from fans that they were losing the love for the sport, we felt it was necessary for a strong signal of change. We want the logo to appeal to everyone, fans new and old – we want to use it to make new connections that will build Formula 1’s global fanbase.
This is the first in a phased rebrand designed to drive reappraisal of Formula 1 with our existing fans and to bring new fans in. What drives that is a set of behaviors and principles that take on board what fans have told us they want to see. That means what we say and do now must be driven by our fans. They come first.
We would like people to feel excited and intrigued about the redesigned logo. At the very least, we hope it builds anticipation for the major changes coming to Formula 1 next year and beyond.
In a world full of corporate sponsorships and slick graphics, how does a logo still stand out?
Norman: We believe that a logo is an important part of any brand’s identity – whether that be in the modern environment or historically. A logo is often the first thing that people associate a brand with and that’s why we took on board the feedback from fans and made a change.
The rebrand signals our ambition for a more open and inclusive sport that appeals to a much broader fanbase, and hopefully becomes an iconic logo that more fans become familiar with.
Racecar aesthetics have been trending the past few seasons in fashion. What do you attribute fashion’s sudden interest in racing to?
Turley: We’ve fallen in love with big logos. Logos worn as badges, logos as signifiers of tribe. Logos appropriated, recontexualized, remixed almost. The clash and interplay between them when combined is especially exciting, especially in high to low contexts (Vetements/DHL being the most referred to example), even today I saw a Pharrell x adidas X Chanel shoe released – three separate brands operating together creating a fourth outcome.
Formula 1 teams have used this system for decades, entire team identities are built out of the combination of third party logos. So culturally, the collision and stacking of logos that happens organically in motor racing is being worn outside of the sport as part of this broader trend.
We are able to let that interest in logo culture inform the broader identity and see it well within our rights to reabsorb and accent that aesthetic and pump it back into the sport – it’s part of our DNA. It also gives us opportunities to collaborate more with our partners in more interesting cross-branded opportunities, merch being the prime example.
Are there some logos you feel stand the test of time?
Turley: Wherever you look there are examples of logos that have been modernized and some examples of logos that have remained the same over time, I think each case needs to be assessed dependent on its own individual circumstances.
One’s things for sure is that no matter what category a business falls into, each business will have had to make a variety of developments and changes in order to have progressed over time.
Why does a former logo suddenly feel dated when a new one is introduced?
Norman: We would never want to look at our old logo as being dated, we understood that we were replacing a piece of significant graphic design heritage. The mark generated by Carter-Wong is something of a British design classic and we would want it to be remembered in that way.
But it was a logo without an identity behind it, and in order to create a brand that can operate with the agility and strength of character required to survive in this distributed, content-driven, platform-centric world – where each touch point has to be consistent, we needed to start again and make sure there was a through line from logo to advertising, to TV graphics, digital assets, social media, merchandise…all part of the F1 ecosystem.
Our brand needs to move with the times. This change is one of a number we have made that signals our ambition for a more open and inclusive sport that appeals to a much broader fanbase.