Audi AreA1, Barcelona (Source)

What’s the major mistake in the photo?

Please take a close look at the “Audi AreA1” photo above. Did you notice a typographic mistake? Since it isn’t crowded with letters, you might believe it to be obvious. However, the fatal error is hidden in the writing which is not seen in this photo.

Advancement through Technology

Audi’s corporate slogan is “Vorsprung durch Technik”. Translated into English as “Advancement through Technology”.

Audi brand movie by Audi Australia; “Challange”

Audi Australia released a brand movie in 2016. It was a perfect example of how Audi moved forward with brand’s perfect skill in combining technology and design. Moreover, the movie was a strong reference to Audi’s culture of “Challenge”.

Audi’s corporate identity also played a big role in this advancement with design updates throughout years.

Four Rings

Auto Union Type D

In 1932, Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer companies decided to come around the table; The “Four” started to join races and developing technology under the name of Auto Union. The company’s logotype, four interlocked rings, represent the original four members of the Auto Union, behind the racing team.

Four Brands of Auto Union: Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer

Although Auto Union used the four ring logo, it was only used on Auto Union racing cars in that period, while the member companies used their own names and emblems on the cars produced for the market.

Auto Union and DKW combined logo usage / 1949–1964

Auto Union production facilities, bombed during the WWII, and occupied by Red Army, was re-established in 1949 producing a low cost automobile by the brand of DKW.

Audi 100 / 1968–1973

Volkswagen acquired Auto Union in 1964 and decided to move on with Audi instead of DKW, known for its two stroke engine technology. Audi was back on the field with the four ring of Auto Union, in 1965 after a 25-year gap.

Red Background Audi logo / 1978–1985

Audi used its logo as ‘Audi’ writing on ellipse background designed in 1978. Four rings was exclusively used in the front grill of an automobile as a brand symbol.

Designed in 1994, combined usage of four rings and Audi logo / 1994–2009

Audi redesigned the brand identity in 1994. New logo was basically ‘Audi’ with four rings as a whole, letting red elliptic background go from previous design.

Audi relaunch 2009

Latest update on corporate identity was in 2009, a century later from brand’s establishment. The four chromalicious rings were designed and are still used presently.

Audi identity redesign movie by Mutabor

Designed by Mutabor and Meta Design, new identity was exclusively positioned as a “signa­ture brand”. New brand identity solely embraced the four ring, throwing away authentic Audi logotype. This move was a close example of brands such as Nike, Apple. Positioned as the back bone of the strategy, the four ring was revisualized for a more realistic form.

Four ring and current Audi typography created by Audi Type font.

Audi was previously using the ‘Audi Sans’ font family. This font family was born with the modification of the font “Univers Extended” by Meta Design.

Previous corporate font, Audi Sans (left), current corporate font, Audi Type (right) (Source)

As a part of redesign in new identity in 2009, a new font family, ‘Audi Type’, was designed by art direction of Meta Design. Unlike modified Audi Sans, Audi Type was created from scratch as an authentic font. New design technology supported many non-latin based language. Updated letter forms offered much better readability in smaller fonts. For a better contrast results, the weight balance in letters were neatly reformed.

Old corporate usage, ‘Audi’ wording repeats in logo and copy (left), current usage, Audi is only found in the copy (right) (Source)

In cases where ‘Audi’ wording is exposed, the typography created from Audi Type font was used instead of original Audi logo. This new typography offered solutions;creating a new visual language, preventing the problem of multi-usage of the word Audi.

Old corporate usage, ‘Audi’ wording repeats in logo and copy (left), current usage, Audi is only found in the copy (right) (Source)

Where is the major mistake hidden?

“2009 Audi corporate identity redesign” should have forged into a brand culture. As new strategy offers Audi Type based typography usage instead of logotype, the mistake is keep using old logotype in product and technology names. There are other minor unnoticed details that makes things worse.

Audi Quattro, 1980 Geneva Fair launch (left), Quattro logo on Audi 80 Rally automobile (right)

There is an obvious incoherence between all the logos that are in use. Each logo reflect a typographic style of its own, serving to a great perception chaos. For instance, Quattro logo is a pure reflection of 80’s esthetics. On the other hand, all the Audi model names that consist of letter ‘A’ are based on the old Audi logo.

Three generation Audi A3, 1996 (left), 2004 (middle), 2016 (right) carry the same typographic style

The models that have the letters Q and A, use the smaller font size of number than the letter.However, the sports models that have the letters R and S use the number on the same font size as letter.

Sports series, R and S use the number on the same font size as letter.

Freshly designed Audi A4 have a similar confusion in the its virtual dashboard.

As initiating the new Audi A4, 4 different font design appears on the indicator.

As initiating the automobile, old-style logotypes and typography appearing on the virtual dashboard don’t have any consistency.

I did a typographic update to show how the dashboard should ideally look.

The biggest typography of the dashboard have the Eurostile font used in previous generation A4. Where it should have been the corporate, current Audi Type font as shown above.

The racing suits are branded with Quattro, designed with corporate font. Their car is branded with the old Quattro logo.

Same duality goes for the Quattro logo.The racing team’s costumes are branded with the latest corporate logo, the racing automobile is branded with the old Quattro logo.

2016 Audi A4 India Launch, new typography is used (left), Hong Kong Launch, old logo is used (right)

Some corporate events also reflect such confusion.The product names in some events are presented with an old logo based style,in others the names are aligned with the corporate font.

Conclusion: 360° VR Typography

It seems that Audi stays loyal to its brand promise; “Advancement through Technology” Audi’s brand corporate identity is, no doubt, aligned with technology and trendy communication necessities. However, Audi kept automobile typographies separate from this approach. In this age, you have to treat all the writings as of same worth.

This is also such an age that brand’s corporate typography speaks the brand’s language. Many brands design multi-linguistic, multi-functional, environment sensitive fonts. The usage of typographic language is truly embraced instead of using an original logo.

“iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 107 seconds” video created with San Francisco Font

Apple suits perfectly to this new age approach. The strategy is based on usage of an unique font family in vast range of products; from keyboards to operating system, web site to commercials, from MacBooks to Apple TV. The font family is called San Francisco. All the logos are visualized via this font.

Apple San Francisco font, consisting 30 fonts in the family.

It is unfair to call San Francisco, a font. It is more than a font. It is the new age’s first smart font family. San Francisco consist of 30 fonts, it is supported by operating systems to easily adopt to environment and usage as dynamic as it can be.

We are surrounded by brands and millions of products. Apple is a benchmark for all other brands to come up with a 360° solution to their typography approach.

Because as the proverb tells us; ‘A chain is only as strong as its weakest link’

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English translation by —@gokseninyildirim
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