The logos on cars today are bigger than they have ever been; they increasingly shout out loudly so no one can doubt which car is from which brand. This is because car companies have realised the value in their designs being recognised on the road as from their brand, because it contributes to raising brand awareness. And the easiest way to do this is to make sure that the logo is very large
Historically car logos – or graphical logo marks to give them their full title – derived from the heraldry of the place or people behind the company (such as Porsche, Cadillac), or their name or initials (Ford, Rolls Royce), the symbolism consciously chosen (Jaguar, Audi) or a mix of these (most companies!). The logo sat on the car as a label for those who were curious to know the car’s origins; the small point of reference for an otherwise label-free, non-communicative artefact.
But as companies recognise the need to position their designs very exactly within the increasingly narrow boundaries that define specific sectors of the market, so the function of the logo as brand differentiator is increasingly important – particularly in emerging markets where awareness of brand specific design signatures is less strong. Arguably this is something that the premium fashion brands have taught the car industry with their explicit use of logo marks to unequivocally tell people their brand.
So as the awareness of the importance of logos’ function grows, so does the imperative to increase its size to increase its visibility and thus its ability to serve this function. The only question is: how big will they grow to?