Another week, another brand refresh for a carmaker. This time it's the turn of Infiniti, the luxury car brand from Japan's Nissan. The rebrand includes Infiniti's fourth logo in its 30-year history, although you might not have noticed.
We've seen plenty of subtle updates to the best car logos recently, most of them involving flattening and simplifying an existing design. The new Infiniti logo takes the art of the subtle rebrand to a new level. But while it might look similar, the brand does sound and smell different, somewhat to the dismay of dealerships, it seems.
We've seen some curious car rebrands of late, from Jaguar Land Rover rebranding as JLR to the unreadable Kia logo. Compared to those, the new Infiniti logo plays it extremely safe – so safe you might not spot the changes.
It maintains the previous design's use of an 'infinite road' as its main device. The lines and thinner, while the road has been slightly widened and the sides no longer reach a point on the horizon. That may be intended to make it clearer that it's a road and not Mount Fuji as some people believe (although I've seen suggestions that it now looks like a Pac-Man sleeping).
"Our aim was to subtly evolve the INFINITI logo in support of the bright new chapter that lays ahead" says Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design, in a press release. "Adding greater emphasis to the point where the infinite road intersects with the horizon, we are showcasing our steadfast commitment to always look forward to the future and to new horizons."
It doesn't look so much like a new logo but a return to the lines of Albaisa's original Infiniti logo from 1989. The wordmark does have new spacing, however, which Infiniti says visually accentuates the horizon.
More novel is the new sound logo accompanying the rebrand. The sonic logo combines a taiko drum ("the embodiment of human performance and power" and the softness of a Japanese wind chime called a furin, which Infiniti says adds "a layer of tranquility and refinement", while a female voice hums "as a signal to all senses that something exciting is about to happen". The descriptions make it sound terribly pretentious, but the resulting sound logo is sharp and distinctive.
The visual and sound logos aren't the only change, though. Infiniti is also updating its showroom designs with a new minimalist look that's intended to embody the Japanese concept of 'Ma'. The brand says that "unlike the Western construct of minimalism, Ma embraces empty space in an additive capacity — to ensure balance between all elements."
The brand has even commissioned an "invigorating and calming" new scent that "evokes a Japanese forest, with hints of Hinoki wood (Japanese cypress), sugi (Japanese cedar) and yuzu (Japanese citrus)" for use at brand events and for optional diffusion at retail showrooms.
It sounds delightful, but customers and even Infiniti dealers seem to think the brand needs to decide whether it's a carmaker or a perfume maker. Comments on the YouTube videos above and on other social media reveal a growing impatience with the lack of new cars, serving as a reminder that the product part of a brand identity sometimes needs to be prioritised ahead of logos, sound logos and scents.
"Out of all the things Infiniti desperately needs to become competitive again a new logo was not on my bingo card," one person wrote on Twitter. Meanwhile, one dealer told Automotive News: “Without a solid product plan for the next five years to provide the proper return on investment, I wouldn’t even consider investing."
We recently published a piece on the 'good, the bad and the ugly of car logo rebrands'. We might have to add 'the strange'. In the meantime, for more on sonic logos, see our pick of the best audio logos around.