“Take the Best that Exists and Make it Better“.
Since these words were spoken by the marque’s co-founder, Sir Henry Royce, Rolls-Royce has experienced evolutionary change, from the creator of the ‘Best Car in the World’, to the world’s leading House of Luxury.
The company’s products are today revered as exemplary examples of hand-craftsmanship, born from the finest materials and honed with masterful skill, while the brand and its illustrious figurine, the Spirit of Ecstasy, have become icons for the very best and truest examples of their kind. Indeed, Rolls-Royce, is, a synonym for luxury.
Claude Johnson, Rolls-Royce’s managing director created the symbol to encapsulate speed with silence and superb grace. Johnson then commissioned a highly talented British sculptor named Charles Sykes designed the now famous figurine. Once created, he described it as: “a graceful goddess who chose road travel as her supreme pleasure.”
The Spirit of Ecstasy is an instantly recognisable, modern icon of British luxury. Having graced the prow of Rolls-Royce motor cars since 1911, today, she remains one of the world’s most famous symbols, embodying beauty, luxury, style and perfection.
The Spirit of Ecstasy will now gain increased prominence in the marque’s brand identity. While the sculpture that leads each motor car in silent grace remains unchanged, an iteration of the enigmatic figurine has evolved into the form of an illustration – one that reads clearly in today’s virtual world.
In homage to this historical commission, Chris Mitchell, a leading illustrator of brand and identity icons, was called upon by Pentagram to envisage the distilled form of the iconic statuette. After much creative development and now imagined in two-dimensional form, her direction has changed from left to right, boldly facing the future, reflective of the marque itself.
Marina Willer, commented, “The use of the Spirit of Ecstasy marks a shift in the resonance of the brand – from an automotive to a lifestyle context. She commands an aspirational quality in the luxury sphere and by placing her at the centre of the visual language. The Spirit of Ecstasy can now be interpreted as the muse for the marque, in addition to the motor cars themselves.”
The emblematic Rolls-Royce’s logo features a mild serif typeface that has two superimposed initials. It represents a visual concept that shows a luxurious feel as the two R’s interact and its black and silver colors add a more sophisticated tone into it. The emblem on the company is framed by their full name that is broken into two sections and both of them are divided by thick lines and fenced by a rectangle.
In recent years, Rolls-Royce has experienced change at a quicker rate than ever before in its storied past. The Rolls-Royce portfolio has expanded to five models, each with their own distinct character, and almost every motor car created at the marque’s Global Centre of Luxury Manufacturing Excellence in Goodwood, West Sussex, is Bespoke – tailored to the lifestyle requirements of diverse and discerning patrons.
The introduction of Black Badge, the marque’s alter-ego, has met the needs of a subset of these clients, answering their call for an edgier, alternative Rolls-Royce, one that carries an assertive and dominant persona. With such choice, it is no surprise, therefore, that the age and demographic of the marque’s clients have decreased significantly to an average of just 43.
The question is then, how does such an established and iconic brand present itself via its visual language and remain true to its heritage while speaking to its bright and contemporary future?
A wholly new visual treatment of the Spirit of Ecstasy has been created, called The Spirit of Ecstasy Expression. With an ethereal yet tech-like feeling, The Expression adds a cutting-edge aura to the new visual identity. Contemporary in appearance, The Expression speaks of the marque’s modern lifestyle presence.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce, commented on this brand transition, “As the marque’s digital presence increases, there has never been a more important time for the visual language of the company to reflect our standing as the leading luxury brand in the world. We have embarked on a fascinating journey of modernizing our brand identity to echo those changes seen in our portfolio, our client demographic, their lifestyle and the luxury world that surrounds them.”
Rolls-Royce appointed Marina Willer, partner at Pentagram – a multi-disciplinary design studio which is revered within its field – to create a new brand identity that could move beyond the mechanics of being the ‘Best Car in the World’, to encapsulate the brand’s presence and standing as a true House of Luxury. The identity was designed to appeal to the new demographic of clients and all that they represent both digitally, and physically.
Pentagram embarked upon a deep exploration of Rolls-Royce, including its products – both new and old, its design ethos, its designers, items that are sacrosanct to the marque, and, the unique relationship the marque maintains with its clients. They spent time in the manufactory, understanding the very essence of Bespoke and how this was key to the establishment of contemporary Rolls-Royce.
Marina Willer, commented, “What soon became apparent is that Rolls-Royce has evolved from being regarded as an automotive manufacturer into a leading light in the world of luxury. It was essential for us to ensure that the brand’s new identity reflected this shift. We needed to present Rolls-Royce in a forward-facing, fresh and relevant way – speaking to new audiences while respecting the company’s loyal clients.”
Willer was able to approach the re-design from a completely fresh perspective. “I do not come from an automotive background. This vantage point provided me with the opportunity to observe Rolls-Royce as a manufacturer of luxury products. My ambition was to celebrate the luxuriousness of the brand while providing it with the means to visually communicate with Rolls-Royce’s younger, increasingly diversified audiences.”, she commented.