Overview: how BMW reinvents its design and will top of the range

BMW is to reinvent its design philosophy and travel top of the range with the new, significantly flavor of luxury models. Richard Bremner, investigation on the Bayerische Motoren Werke.

The spelling of the BMW name, first name, and the use of a black and silver roundel (rather than the famous blue and white propeller logo), are among the more subtle indicators of an important change of orientation of the Munich-based manufacturer.

A new design language is emerging inside and outside of its cars. The brand will expand further upmarket. And it is presenting itself in new ways. It is for the masses, Bmw, for the electrification of the i-brand cars and for the newly designated luxury models, including the written press, TELEVISION, and online presentation will be accompanied by BMW name, first name, and the black and silver badge.

At the recent Frankfurt motor show, where this new signage could be seen above a screen of special 7 Series saloon (a yacht-inspired exploratory version of this that is wood, carpet, soil…), BMW has also deployed its handsome 8 Series concept, rather less elegant X7 car of the show and the electric, I have a Dynamic Vision of the sedan with a grille rather surprising proportions.

Indeed, the schedules of all three concepts vary considerably in shape, texture, proportion and shape, and are all other indices of BMW to change tack. What is much more important than the reshaping and recolouring of BMW’s most famous visual signature, as the product of the company management and the design of the heads of explain.

“There are a couple of things that are produced in parallel in the BMW Group,” said BMW Group design boss Adrian van Hooydonk, who explains the genesis of this change.

“First of all, the expansion at the upper end of our range is something we’ve been wanting to do for a moment. We believe that there is room to do so, in fact, our customers ask for more products at the top end and almost at the same time that we have mapped out new cars, like the 8-Series and the X7, we realized that when we come to 2018, we hit a wave of new products, including the Z4 and a couple of other cars.

“In fact, six or seven new Bmw comes out next year-and-a-half. I have been with this company some time and we have done a lot of product in the past, but I would say that we have never done so many new cars for a particular brand in a short period of time.”

With a rich range of new models under development, the company has recognized that there was an opportunity, because if you can roll six cars in a year and a half, you can very well transform the brand,” said van Hooydonk. “We also felt that it was the right time, because we felt quite happy with the design until now. But you have to keep moving forward. You don’t want to be a sitting duck.”

Not allowing BMW to become a sitting duck is also a motivation for BMW management product and brand manager Hildegard Wortmann. “I think it is important when you have a strong brand image that will keep you fresh all the time, that you keep it original, you can keep it on the edge,” she said. To this end, Wortmann, a trademark expert with experience at both Unilever and Calvin Klein, before joining BMW in 1998, has overseen the three components of the reorientation of the way BMW presents itself to the world. And with its contribution to the process of product development, she has been involved in the substance of these new cars.

These three components are the power of the Bmw, the i-brand cars and newly appointed deluxe Bayerische Motoren Werke models.

Fans of BMW might notice that the people today appear in ads, and that the tone of his email, which cut through the social media, changes depending on the model. Wortmann cites “the [advertising] campaign on the 1 Series – it is completely digital, on the topic of drones, to competitions and facilities, with drones. This refresh is to keep the brand up to this day, making it modern. The challenge is to make different interpretations on each car, according to the different segments, and different target audiences.”

With the I models, she adds, “you’ll see a much more fresh with more and more digital, more multimedia and more emotion. It is a strong statement of attitude.” BMW luxury models, the 7 Series, and the upcoming X7 and 8 Series Coupé – will be represented using a strategy borrowed from the world of fashion, “by a return to its roots and to use the full name, such as Alexander McQueen,” says Wortmann. The McQueen fashion house and others spell the name of the brand for its high-end lines, and to use the initials for the products more accessible.

The visual character of the cars themselves are changing too, says van Hooydonk, “this new chapter of our form of language. Fairly quickly, we came to the conclusion that it should be something that is cleaner, where we are trying to achieve a lot with less, and less lines.

“But the lines that we have must be refined, sharper, and more accurate. We believe that this goes very well with these new high-end products. When you reduce the form of the language, the details matter more. In the luxury segment, where, often, more is more, we offer the luxury of a very modern way.”

The new design language is not only about the simplification and the refinement of the forms. BMW is keen to further develop the identity of everyone within its range, than those on the new grids indicate. “In the next vehicle generation, we want to separate each and every model. They have very different types of competitors that could be entirely different brands. The industry has changed in that sense,” said van Hooydonk.

“For luxury cars, it is always a good idea to separate them from the next car – this is something that we’re going to do. If you look at the 8 Series, I believe that it deserves this name. Like the previous 8 Series, this is a car that is not a sedan derived coupe.”

With a new design language in the course of development, and that the wave of new models in 2018, van Hooydonk and marketing team believes that BMW should also re-evaluate its corporate identity. This process was conducted by Wortmann, who said: “You have seen the first exit to the Frankfurt notor show is fully written “Bayerische Motoren Werke” in the black-and-white logo, at least in the press. We believe that it is more elegant and sophisticated. It fits with what we’re trying to do with the shape of the tongue.”

As you might expect, the design team has adopted a new approach inside also, “for the same reasons – again, we have been able to clean up”, said van Hooydonk. “Cars are becoming more intelligent and that is happening now. This means that you have to tell the car less what it should do and what you want. So you will need less buttons.

“The buttons that we have are carefully grouped in a few islands in the central console or in the dash of the Z4, the 8-Series and X7 concept cars. The cockpits are going to go to digital and always include a head-up display, and how to operate the vehicle then becomes a mix between touch, some hard keys and the control of the voice.”

It is for the short-medium term, during which “the intelligence of vehicles is also growing”, says van Hooydonk. “Before long, cars will be self-learning, and, in the end, be able to drive autonomously. Which opens up other possibilities because you can sit people in different ways in the car. We can expect to see a lot more development in the interior of the car in the next two years. With these concept cars, we are also to show inside that when you reduce, it may actually be more luxurious and there is more space for the use of exclusive materials.”

In 2018, we can expect this visual revolution to be taken with a certain force. As Wortmann and van Hooydonk explained, these changes were driven by both design and marketing. “If it takes the brand a little more upscale, this is good,” says van Hooydonk.

Given the scope of this change for BMW, the results may generate useful more than that too.

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