Allowed some time to collect my thoughts, upon seeing the new Le Mans 24 Hours logo, before sharing. I always try to be—well not always, but try to try—constructive when I'm sharing my thoughts about a logo design created by another logo designer.
After all, there is no joy whatsoever in hearing negative remarks about ones own work. To be perfectly fair, and brutally honest, being any kind of artist immediately draws the spot-light upon you, be it for good or for worse, and well, we just ideally need to take the knock-downs with the re-ups.
Saying all that, I do feel the need to state my disappointment in the new Le Mans 24 Hours logo design, and not really sharing the opinions over at BrandNew either, which is pretty much a first.
Le Mans: "Henceforth, the Le Mans 24 Hours has a new visual identity thanks to the new logo designed by the Leroy Tremblot agency. An event like the Le Mans 24 Hours is based around a central dimension — its legend. And this legend has been carefully forged since 1923 thanks to four sacrosanct values: innovation, popularity, performance and variety. These four values can be found in the new logo, which also transforms the identity of the event to a brand concept.
This new sign replaces a logo that dates from 1978 and it coincides with the introduction this year of new technical regulations for the Le Mans blue riband category, the LM P1s (download hereafter)."
Mutton Dressed as Lamb
Take away the gloss, the shiny metallic paint job, the 'blue riband category' (see press release above) and what you see is—and what I immediately saw through the thick paint and lacquer job—the unbalanced nature of the logo.
First thing that hit me was, "what the hell is happening to the top of the# 2?"
I get streamlined car bonnets, curves, fading roads into the distance, but this simply looks like a catastrophic attempt at using some tool in Illustrator for the first time. A little more thickness at the top, maybe even a little more depth, a little thinning out around it's waist would have made such a difference, in my personal opinion of course.
Given the #2 leads us in, it's such a shame it looks so oddly shaped with it's sturdy waistline, it's dainty base, and the thinning on top. Almost feels like a good attempt at a first draft.
The baseline width of the #2, and thusly, the width of the #4, also seem a little too wide to me, in my personal opinion of course. I know there are often trade-offs with this method of creating something from nothing (negative/positive space), but even so, this could have been done a lot lot better, I really believe that.
Reverse the logo (which is how it is primarily presented on the Le Mans website), and you see even more clearly the discrepancies between each letters shape and form, and how the #4 almost feels like it's been shoehorned in, not so with the F1 logo.
The 'h' is really the only solid letter going on here. Oh, and the Le Mans wording is also solid, guess that's a good thing because it literally is having to carry the rest of the logo.
Formula 1 vs Le Mans 24 Hours
For us Formula 1 fans the similarity between both logos beckons some weary questions. I'm not 'in the know' enough to question if there is actually some kind of business connection between F1 and Le Mans, in which case excellent, bring some consistency. However, I feel this is probably not the case, and the similarity is simply more than a similarity shared with another motor racing organisation. If one is going to use inspiration from another design, then please do try a little harder to do it justice.
For such a prestigious event, I feel this opportunity to redesign the Le Mans 24 hour logo was simply not grasped. It's really quite disappointing. Oh, and thinking about it, I wasn't that impressed with Caterham's 2012 F1 Team logo either…
Formula 1 vs 24 Hours Le Mans
Quick comparison below shows they also share, pretty much, the same boundaries, give or take.
It was recently announced that Caterham will start the 2012 season under their own name. In 2010 they went under the name of Lotus Racing, then in 2011 it was Team Lotus. Due to lengthy legal proceedings with Lotus Renault GP, team boss Tony Fernandes opted to name the team for 2012 as Caterham F1 Team.
Caterham's new F1 Team logos (click on images above for maxisize versions) will adorn the 2012 race cars.
Team boss Tony Fernandes insisted the Caterham move makes sense for his outfit.
"With Team Lotus, I would have battled to the end if I felt it was the right thing to do, but when you take a dispassionate look at where we were it made absolute sense to start with a clean sheet, and Caterham has given us that chance," said Fernandes in the team's magazine.
"It's the best possible solution for where we want to go - partly because it gives us complete control over everything we do and, obviously, because there's simply no point racing to promote a road car company I don't own. The road car business has always been a sector I've wanted to explore and so here we are.
"But I can't stress enough; this is a serious business venture for us. If I just needed a new name, I could have called it anything, but the synergy with Caterham works better - and it's what I do – take a small business with the correct core values and purpose and expand it and grow it into the global marketplace."
My first thoughts were a little less than positive. In fact I was more sad than anything else as I just felt—I don't pretend to be a motor racing enthusiast, or know anything about Caterham other than a little bit of their heritage—this new logo lacked an initial presence and style I would consider appropriate for a English sports car company.
I look at it, and feel it's missing it's true soul which has been replaced by this F1 italicised style of typography. Feel is a little soulless and maybe a little unoriginal.
But that M on the team version looks decidedly odd. A small suggestion would have been to rang the F1 TEAM line far right so as to keep the main brand name style consistent with the regular Caterham logo version. It's not as "flash" but feels less awkward and more consistent.
Once it's adorned on the side of the F1 cars it will undoubtedly take on a totally different persona, which is quite common with logo designs nowadays—which could get me started on a whole new subject about logos still needing to work and reflect a personality on their own when not viewed as a whole brand identity—and will be enough to shut me up.
I look forward to seeing how the logo is applied to the cars livery especially on an all green F1 car with this wicked yellow lettering.
British Racing Green for the win.
No details yet on who designed the Caterham logos, but you can view the original Caterham F1 Team logos over on their Flickr page.
Caterham's F1 website also provides ways in which to follow Caterham via YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and FaceBook.