BP&O Plus


Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 7 March 2011

Old ŠKODA logo design 1999-2011

Škoda is a Czech car manufacturer established in 1859 which started producing bikes, motorcycles and then automobiles at the start of the 20th century. In 1990 they were purchased by the Volkswagen Group and saw significant growth of 51% in 2010 compared to the previous year. As of March 2011 they will introduce a new identity to better represent their more ecological, innovative and aspirational vision of the future.

The original logo ticked all the car badge boxes for the period, bevels, brushed aluminium, highlights and gradients while featuring its unique winged arrow from 1926. Here is the description from Škoda’s website:

“…the famous “winged arrow” was first used in 1926. Its origin is shrouded in mystery, sometimes the author of the idea (the stylised head of an Indian wearing a headdress with five feathers) is said to be the commercial director of Škoda Plzeň, T. Maglič. The blue and white circular logo, which is completed by a right-moving winged arrow with a stylised pinion…”

 New ŠKODA logo design 2011

The logo still contains its iconic winged arrow but has undergone a number of revisions. These include alterations to some of curves, elongating the feathers and a tightening up of the overall illustration, a suitable improvement making it appear faster, slicker and more streamlined. The green has been suitably enhanced becoming more representative of their ecological origins and ambitions. The most significant change is the lock-up, moving the name out of the badge and thus creating building blocks for a more convincing brand architecture (where the badge is just a badge and not the logo). This allows the new typeface to take centre stage as the foundation of this new identity system and although not revolutionary it brings it more in line with the manufacturers it wants to compete against. The typeface (possibly Eurostile) is a much better selection and its customisation has eliminated the weakness of some of the original letter forms. This ultimately delivers a more modern and forward thinking visual while the black colour choice continues to symbolise their hundred year tradition.

The brushed aluminium effect has gone and the badge edge is now angled rather than curved. It still utilises a gradient but this appears simplistic and dull in contrast to the polished steel effect on the central icon (which has been applied very heavily) with the lightest areas just disappearing into the background creating a sense of inconsistency. I suspect the gradient derived from the choice of badge metal, trading the impact of the printed identity for the appearance on the car. The decision to separate the badge and the name (creating a stand alone logotype) reduces the impact of this problem.

Skoda continues to be a favoured brand in the Czech Republic and maintains its growth worldwide, although not perfect, this new identity moves the brand forward (or at least in line with its middle market competitors) and certainly succeeds in representing its greater aspirations. The roll out of the identity has begun but won’t make it onto their cars until Autumn.