Avik Chattopadhyay: The logo is finally flat!

13 Mar,2020

By Avik Chattopadhyay


A bat has brought the world to a standstill. Economies are decelerating, stock markets are crashing, cities are getting locked down, travel has stopped and countries are putting themselves into quarantine.


The world is indeed flat.

Otherwise, the virus would have slipped off the curve.

Logos are going flat too.

Not a very new phenomenon as Apple was one of the early converts.

But BMW doing something similar is indeed significant news to me.


You know, automobile brands are too snooty to be messed around with, especially when it is a luxury marque. So when one of the world’s most aspirational brands, across categories, goes into a transformative mood, many of do sit up and start analysing.


The social media handles were buzzing with BMW’s new logo, unveiled at the sanitised Geneva Motor Show last week. Thankfully, the Covid 19 social media frenzy had not happened then, otherwise this news would have gotten drowned out.


Most people I sought feedback from do not like what has been done.


Expected, as most of us do not like shaking the status quo. We call it “tradition” and “ritual”. Therefore, sacrosanct and touch-me-not. But here was a brand like BMW that had already taken the step, shaken the status quo, broken tradition and upset the ritual. There must have been reasons compelling enough to do so. Personally, I find it very clever. And truly disruptive of existing convention and comfort. Hence, my opinion on this developing trend of big brands modifying their logos into a ‘flat’ format.


Apple. VW. BMW.


The first and last undertook the transformation of their own volition.

VW did so as part of their image ‘cleaning up’ act after the Dieselgate scandal.

The previous versions were these metallic, 3D effect.

The new ones are simple, clean, lean and 2D.

Why have these brands consciously decided so?

For three reasons, I believe…



A simple and clean logo on your product, sans all frills, depicts a sense of transparency in the brand’s relationship with its stakeholders…customers, employees, partners etc.



The fact that the logo does not have a fixed colour palette but allows for including its setting in the form of hues, textures and material shows inclusion as central to its value system, hence adaptability. The brand, through its logo, has the ability to blend and become part of the environment and context it operates in, across cultures and markets.



The brands of tomorrow will be post-industrial. Gone are the days when we gaped at large structures and industrial enterprises in admiration and aspiration. Tomorrow’s brands will be personal. They will connect directly and personally to each consumer through new means of engagement and immersive experiences. They will be configured to be consumed and not merely owned. And the logos of such post-industrial will at least not be in 3D with a machined, metallic finish. They will adapt themselves to be expressed most effectively in the digital media that today’s and tomorrow’s consumers most commonly use to interact with the brands.


The marketing maverick Shunu Sen had once told me, “The brand is a wasting asset!” Very true, Mr Sen, especially in today’s world where consumption outstrips transaction and advocacy outlives mere satisfaction. The logo is but a true manifestation of that world. Transparent. Inclusive. Flexible. And very personal.



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