The creation of the FIAT logo 1968 –
a landmark in the perception of a visual
by Hans Conraths
The FIAT logo and the pure visual sty-le developed out of it marked a new type of industrial communications. It was officially introduced by FIAT Au-tomobili SpA, Turin in 1968, a year when the term “corporate identity” as philosophy or communications con-cept was unknown in the European industrial world.
The modern and timeless FIAT logo was the basic element of this style. It was continuously used by the FIAT group worldwide for forty years. To eventually replace it needed a good reason: the group‘s 100th anniversary in 1999. To evoke that historical event, the group decided to re-introduce the old 1899 logo as official brand/logo. The story of the FIAT Logo and those who created, proposed and “sold” it to FIAT is unusual and discloses
sur-prising insights on essential aspects of the European post war industrial and communicative development. In a nutshell: the “fathers” of the style were a German/French conceptual thinker, a Swiss art director and an Italian no-bleman with management and writing skills.
The conceptual thinker was Jean Rei-wald. Born in Berlin in 1925, he was the son of Paul Reiwald, an eminent international authority in social psycho-logy and author of numerous books, amongst them the bestsellers “The psychology of the masses” or “The society and its criminals”. His mother was a well known painter. In the early thirties, the family migrated to Gene-va where Paul Reiwald became a pro-fessor at the University. Jean Reiwald, very interested in mass psychology and art, was particularly attracted by
cars and advertising. In 1955, he mo-ved to Basle, started working as an advertising consultant. However, his professional dream was to do adver-tising for well designed Italian cars. Tirelessly, he wrote letters to the FIAT subsidiary in Geneva arguing that “beautifully designed cars deserve an equally authentic advertising sty-le” he surely knew to provide. Eventu-ally, he was invited for a presentation, succeeded and – as of 1960 – was appointed as the FIAT (Suisse) SA advertising consultant. His successful performances opened him the doors to Fiat headquarters at Turin in 1962 where he gradually became the sole advertising and communications ad-visor to FIAT Cars‘ Advertising Director, Count Oddone Camerana. Camerana and Reiwald supported by Reiwald‘s Swiss Art Director Armin Vogt closely
cooperated since 1965 on the creati-on of a new FIAT Logo. It was officially introduced in 1968.
As of 1965, the Jean Reiwald AG with headquarters in Basle and offices in Milan, Paris and Lörrach/Germa-ny became one of the leading crea-tive Swiss advertising agencies. It served important companies such as FIAT Suisse, Ferrero, Autovox, Lejaby, Boursin in France and Motta, Hudson, Marker skis in Germany. Its short, but successful story came to a rather ab-rupt end in 1971 when Jean Reiwald died of a malicious brain tumour. In graphic terms, the sixties were do-minated by the clear, neat and well proportioned Swiss graphic style. Swiss designers and art directors were in high demand. Some of them
succeeded to leave some longer las-ting graphic tracks. At Reiwald‘s, the Fiat account in Italy was initially served by Basle graphic artist Heinz Ringger and as of 1965 by Armin Vogt.
Looking at European examples of car advertising during the sixties, it ap-peared that manufacturers presen-ted each new type of car with a new sign, brand or label. The aspect of institutional or corporate importance in brand advertising had not yet been realized. FIAT was no exception and the brands for the FIAT 124 and FIAT 125 launched in 1966 evidenced this clearly. However, both brands alrea-dy show the effort to find an original form combining the car maker’s name and the individual car type.
With the objective to simplify commu-nications on FIAT‘s complex, vast and various activities and products, Jean Reiwald and Armin Vogt started their studies and eventually proposed one single, unifying key element by which the entire, heterogeneous FIAT pro-duction could be authentically visua-lized. It was an architectural element: the rhombus.
And it was to be used like a module in architecture. Thus, the Fiat trade mark consisting of four standardized rhom-buses could be deliberately applied to the group’s diversified industrial pro-duction (land/rail, sea, air). It symbo-lized the standardized uniqueness of the group’s production in each of its products.
Along with the new logo came the quest for a FIAT style bringing order
and identity to the group‘s commu-nications. Its key elements were: the use of a standard type face, a pho-tographic style without the presence of human beings – unless absolutely essential and a style of writing being simple, informative, direct and human. That is: never pompous, pretentious, ambiguous or authoritarian.
In 1968, this new style appeared for the first time on the European print media scene. FIAT documented it in a coloured book gathering the most si-gnificant advertising means published in 1968. They mirror the numerous and various information activities of the group and offer a clear, simple and yet fascinating look of what “cor-porate identity” was before the mar-keting and management term came
Advertisements: Fiat 124 Special, Fiat Dino
Colouring book for children, illustrators Peter Emch, Urs Glaser, Peter Wetzel Advertisements in print Media for children
Greeting cards for different production areas Lettering for real estate objects in Gemany
Greeting cards for different production areas
From 1968 -1971, Hans Conraths has been internatio-nal coordinator for the Fiat account at Jean Reiwald AG, Basle.
In 1975, he founded his own marketing communications agency in Rome/Italy.
1938 Born in Wädenswil/Switzerland
1954-1958 Apprenticeship in a Zurich/Switzerland graphics company, studies at Zurich graphics art school 1959-60 First employment with an advertising agency 1960-1961 Graphic artist at L’Action magazine and Galeries Lafayette, Paris/France
1962-1963 Graphic artist at Novità magazine (Vogue Italia), Milan/Italy
1963-1969 Art Director at Jean Reiwald Ltd., Advertising Agency, Basle/Switzerland
1970 Creates his own studio for Corporate Design in Basle
1984 Co-Founder of Chamaeleon Editions 2001 Creation and direction of Armin Vogt Galerie, Basle
2006 Co-Founder with Robert Schiess and Director of «Print Basel» Fair for contemporary graphic works of art
Specialist teacher at Basle School for Design
President Vice President and member of the Board of SGD (Swiss Graphic Designers)
Member of sgv (Schweizer Grafiker Verband)
Member of SGDF (Swiss Graphic Design Foundation) © Hans Conraths, Armin Vogt/ProLitteris