International: Pentagram has refreshed the brand identity for one of the world’s leading engineering and industrial technology companies, Rolls-Royce. The work reinvigorates the brand and optimises its performance across platforms; bringing visual continuity across geographies and business channels.
Rolls-Royce is a pioneer in cutting-edge technologies that deliver the cleanest, safest and most competitive solutions to meet the planet’s vital power needs. The company was formed by Charles Rolls and Henry Royce in 1906, following a successful partnership in which the pair developed and sold cars. While the motor car business subsequently separated in 1973, Rolls-Royce remains one of the world’s leading names in engineering, innovating in civil and defence aerospace, power systems and nuclear technology.
Pentagram worked closely with the Rolls-Royce leadership to develop a brand strategy, tone of voice and refreshed visual identity that presents Rolls-Royce as both authority and innovator. The refresh brings simplicity and clarity, with an increased emphasis on digital applications and an increasingly international audience. Despite this, it preserves and enhances the company’s illustrious heritage, and is immediately recognisable as Rolls-Royce.
The challenge for the designers was fine-tuning the brand for the small-space digital world, where it can be difficult to make a visual impact with detailed marks. This is especially important as consumers continue to transition to mobile and social platforms and digital commerce technologies. At the same time, the branding had to be effective in the physical world, where identities come to life in large-scale, environmental applications.
The work is informed by a newly defined brand strategy, developed by Pentagram to bring coherence, clarity and flexibility to Rolls-Royce and its full suite of products and services. This is centered around a succinct brand vision that acts as a statement of purpose for the company: Pioneering the power that matters. A rich collection of brand elements has been introduced, including a refreshed badge and tagline, newly defined colour palettes, a specially commissioned custom typeface, and a new approach to icons, infographics and motion graphics.
Retaining the iconic double ‘R’ that is synonymous with Rolls-Royce, Pentagram simplified the company’s badge by removing the external wordmark. While the composition of the badge has been kept in place, Pentagram redrew the letter forms and finessed the details of the inherently complex logotype, to render it in a bold, clear way that functions at both a large and small scale.
The iconography is drawn from the geometry of the double ‘R’, building on an extraordinary 114 years of brand equity. Throughout the branding, the use of white space allows elements to breathe and helps the brand feel open and accessible. This is set against an agile new brand system; comprising vibrant and bold colour palettes, authentic photography, modern iconography, and a specially commissioned custom typeface from the Colophon Foundry, Rolls-Royce Pioneer.
Rolls-Royce Pioneer is a five-weight, eight-style sans-serif type family, composed of both proportional and condensed halves. It takes cues from the refined calligraphic qualities of a humanist-sans, while referencing the industrial past of sans-serif typefaces. For the proportional weights, the subtle flick of the R’s extending diagonal leg takes cues from the ‘R’ letter forms found on the Rolls-Royce badge.
Pentagram commissioned photographer Jane Stockdale to shoot Rolls-Royce’s operations across five countries. The photography avoids staged and hyper-real shots, favouring authentic composition with a strong focus on capturing people-centred stories from all corners of the Rolls-Royce business: including offices, factories, education centres, and community outreach projects.
The result is an enhanced brand ecosystem that reinvigorates Rolls-Royce’s visual identity, optimising its performance across digital platforms and environmental applications.
Rolls-Royce launched the refreshed brand identity at the 2018 Farnborough Airshow.