Logo Design Love

on logos and brand identity design

Pirelli logo evolution

Pirelli logo

“The Italian tyre manufacturer was established in 1872. Without clear corporate guidelines on how to use the logo, it appeared in many variations according to what was popular at the time; the logos shown here represent only a small selection.”

Pirelli ad 1922
Vintage Pirelli ad from 1922, via Pictorial Gems.

Pirelli logo evolution

“The elongated P with its clever shift from thick to thin and back was a highly evocative way to portray the elasticity of Pirelli’s premium products.”

Logo Life

Info excerpted from Logo Life: Life Histories of 100 Famous Logos, a new book by Ron van der Vlugt and BIS Publishers. Via @MatDolphin.

Update: 15 July 2013
I was contacted by Salvatore Gregorietti — designer of the latest iteration of the Pirelli logo. He said the information on the Pirelli website is incorrect, and sent me two correct designs to add to the evolution series above (1945 and 1970s). At the time of the latest design, Salvatore was partner at Unimark International with Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda.

More on the Pirelli website.

Pentagram’s Angus Hyland commented on the Pirelli logo in this archived post.

Pirelli signage photo (top) via F1Network.net.

Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities, second edition

12 appreciated comments

  1. Was someone having a laugh in 1906?

  2. (I know it means types in French before someone points it out.)

  3. M.

    The penultimate Pirelli (1930s) with the chunky serif is amazing.

  4. will

    I’ve always disliked the Pirelli logo, almost to the point of ridicule. It just feels so unbalanced to me; with the elongated bowl stretched out so far, it makes the P difficult to quickly identify to someone who doesn’t already know the brand.

    Not sure if it’s just me and my tastes or if other people agree, but I’ve always found the logo kind of laughable…

  5. Pam

    I think they should have stuck with the first, 1906, version – to me that’s the best of the bunch as far as design goes. I’m with Will on not liking the distorted “P.” It seems to me like something an amateur or student would do before they learn good typography.

  6. Gabe

    I’m with Will and Pam on how ridiculous the P of Pirelli. But can we still call the design serving its purpose? that this distorted P is working to Pirelli’s advantage giving them better brand recall?

  7. rek

    For the longest time as a kid, I thought it was “Firelli”.

  8. Aaron Albonetti

    I have to respectfully disagree. The stretched P is what makes the logo so identifiable. It may look like amateur work at first glance, but it is ten times more recognizable than the 1906 logo and recognition tops aesthetics every time when it comes to logos.

  9. I do agree with Lee… someone had to be laughing behind the scenes in 1906. I do like the collection of them set up the way you did to see how even the littlest changes can make all the difference in a logo.

    Great Post!

  10. will

    Gabe and Aaron make an interesting and totally valid point – the elongated P certainly does make the design distinct and memorable, which is always the aim, but I can’t help but feel that a logo remembered due to it’s illegibility isn’t representing the quality of the company’s product well at all.

    I’ve talked to a bunch of people who, like rek, have always thought it was Firelli with and F.

    Being distinct is one thing, but confusing the public as to what your company name actually IS is a whole other thing… you know? If your branding makes people say the brand name wrong, it’s a fairly fundamental fail, right?

  11. I always have related the Pirelli logo to a tire for some reason. Pirelli is a lot better then having penus Pirelli in the logo.

  12. It’s absolutely the worst logo from an established brand that I’ve seen. As stated above, it’s a total ham-fisted amateur move. And sure, you recognize it now but that doesn’t make it look or work any better. Someone high up should have scrapped it long ago.

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