New Year – New Look. Someone starts it with a new haircut, new job, or a new car. General Motors (GM) decided to start it with a new logo that supposedly reflects its newly found dedication to electric vehicles.
The new logo features lower case GM letters in a sparkling fresh blue frame. And, of course, nothing says zero-emissions like a thin blue line under the letter m. It is not a joke. GM indeed thinks so:
The new GM logo features a colour gradient of vibrant blue tones evoking the clean skies of a zero-emissions future and the energy of the Ultium Platform [GM’s EV battery system]. The rounded edges and lower-case font create a more modern, inclusive feel. The underline of m connects to the previous GM logos visually representing the Ultium Platform. And within the negative space of the m is a nod to the shape of an electrical plug.
I take this change with a grain of salt, and here is why. The logo is crucial – it is a silent symbol of your brand that builds trust and recognition. The quality of your product and services is an extension of the company logo. Logo creation is a million-dollar industry and requires precision and thorough thinking.
Remember the Gap logo story in 2010? Months of design work, launch planning, marketing and millions of dollars lead nowhere but the public uproar and return to the roots. GM may have been heading to the same circle of hell.
However, GM says that changes display the evolution of its brand:
As GM transforms itself to deliver on a vision that creates a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
I am not so sure about it. An unfamiliar and unoriginal logo will hardly build an image for an old company in a new market.
When I saw the new logo for the first time, nothing in my head said “GM.” It could be anything, I thought. A Great Mountain travel agency? Ginger Mingles dating service or Green Mile correctional institution? Anything, but not GM.
The renewal is featuring a marketing call – EVerybody In, as well. And it is a stall on its own. It looks good and starring Malcolm Gladwell, pro surfer and shark attack survivor Bethany Hamilton, fitness instructor Cody Rigsby, and gamer Erin A. Simon as brand influencers. Good names, great people, but not EVerybody In, as promised.
The campaign lacks diversity and feels like GM was sleeping 2020 over, woke up and made an awkward attempt to be “In.”
Nevertheless, GM kept the old talking points about safety and price convenience, which look rather unfit with the unfamiliar new look. These two things were the parts of the GM 113 years history and its logo, not anymore.
Do not get me wrong – I support its appeal to a new customer cohort that holds non-conventional views. That is what Tesla did, for example. But was it the right way to achieve this goal? BMW keeps the coolest sweet 16 car status and advances its green vehicles without discarding a century-old history, brand recognition, and customer trust.
I believe GM’s vision of the future is noble. Its plan to invest more in electric and autonomous vehicles deserves respect. But nothing of it is reflected in the logo. Nothing says we are an old friend in a new shirt, and we are ready to rock. It more like: we have no idea what we are doing whatsoever.