As part of my Graphic Design module ran by Dr. Peter Buwert the class was shown the Phaidon Archive of Graphic Design and told to blog about some of the great designs that are inside.
Founded in Milan in 1872 by Giovanni Battista Pirelli, the company initially specialised in rubber and derivative processes and also made scuba diving rebreathers. Thereafter, Pirelli’s activities were primarily focused on the production of tyres and electricity cables. In 2005, Pirelli sold its cable division to Goldman Sachs, which changed the new group’s name to Prysmian and therefore left to deal in the car industry solely.
The logo design originally was very simply and had no clear meaning or deeper thought other than the word Pirelli.
Without clear corporate guidelines on how to use the logo, it appeared in many variations according to what was popular at the time. Clearly the logo has evolved a lot in a century.
The current Pirelli logotype has a very distinctive stretched P that covers the entired width of the letters which emphasises the key feature of their tyres. Elasticity and stability. The stretched P first appeared on the logo in 1914 when the original word-only logo was revamped and has remained ever since which shows that it has a really strong brand value for the company. It can also be viewed as a racetrack. It’s a fascinating and extremely well thought out design which has a strong recognisable brand. Previous versions of the logo the P appeared softer and fatter on purpose as a result of Pirelli supplying tyres to an overland car journey from Peking to Paris and the logo seemed an effective way of suggesting the product’s properties of speed and softness.
The logo was a serif based logotype through many variations until the 1930’s when it was eventually simplified to a sans-serif and the P was lengthened and flattened until its final form was derived in 1946. A clean strong and exact take on the original. Pirelli’s advertising and sense of design over the years has always been clever using the female body in conjuction with cars to appeal to the male viewer and also the iconic Olympic runner Carl Lewis in red high heels. This helped stamp their logo into the minds of the world population and now holds a strong recognisable and unforgettable brand that will continue to shine for years to come.