Case Study by Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Founder of Blok Design
VUHL 05 is a new Mexican supercar, the brainchild of Iker and Guillermo Echeverria, two brothers from Mexico City who grew up with a profound passion for racing thanks to the cars successfully built and campaigned over 30 years by their father, Guillermo Echeverria Senior.
Backed by the world’s most renowned development partners and suppliers, and embodying the highest levels of automotive technology, the car needed a brand identity that would put an unforgettable stamp on the highly competitive world of racing. It also needed a communications plan to bring it to market.
Our relationship began two and a half years ago, before any bolts were riveted or steel welded. Working with the designers, we helped shape the brand, from the story to the identity to the art direction to the interior graphics, the helmet and all communications, including the online experience.
When Iker and Guillermo first approached us, the car was little more than a concept drawing. But their story, their philosophy and values, as well as their sheer passion and belief in the project charmed us right from the beginning.
Their father was one of Mexico’s racing legends in the 1970’s, famous not only for winning most of his races, but also for designing and building his cars from the ground up. He was widely admired for his integrity, his uncompromising standards and work ethic, and for the elegance and style with which he raced.
As we got to know his sons, and the thinking and philosophy that guided the car’s design, it was immediately apparent that these qualities were embedded in VUHL’s DNA. As industrial designers, their philosophy is to design to the very essence of a product. Nothing is superfluous. So it is with VUHL 05. Spare, lean, with highly contemporary lines, there is nothing within its design to weigh it down, a lesson Iker and Guillermo learned from watching their father build his cars.
But the car faced many challenges: what should its name be? What was the company’s relationship to the car itself? How to bring it to market with a fraction of the budget of other high profile brands, such as KTM and Bac Mono?
The first step was to understand where it could live as a brand.
Defining the brand landscape
The world of premium track-day racing is a crowded, highly competitive space. In order to find a distinctive voice for VUHL, we needed to do a deep analysis of the company, the intended customer and the competition.
We embarked on a simple, but thorough strategic process that began with a questionnaire designed to help us understand the company’s core competency, where it might live ten years into the future with more models under its belt, and the key challenges and opportunities along that journey.
We looked at the market situation, identifying key competitors, their strengths and weaknesses, and how they represent themselves visually and culturally.
Working with Iker and Guillermo, we also created a thorough profile of their customers - their values, expectations and desires, and what they seek in a driving experience.
Uncovering the sweet spot
Two critical factors emerged from these strategic sessions. First, we discovered that the intended customers had a true appreciation of high-end design, favouring highly contemporary designers such as Tom Dixon. Seeking bigger and better experiences to add to their lives, they were drawn to the overall feeling of racing – the camaraderie, the magic, the adrenalin - not just the pure performance of the car and speed.
The second factor was that most track-day cars focus almost exclusively on performance.
We recognized a unique opportunity for VUHL, and set out to tell a deeper, more visceral story, one that honoured the family’s legacy of racing while capturing the exhilaration, beauty and grit of the driving experience.
The other unique space that was as yet uninhabited by other brands, was the world of high-end design. The car is the epitome of what this means. We recognized that this was something we could leverage that would further enhance the car’s appeal with the customer.
Once we identified the brand story, we embarked on a naming exercise, working with the designers to find the appropriate moniker. We settled on VUHL, which is the acronym for the Spanish translation of, “lightweight vehicle architecture”.
The brand story played an instrumental role in shaping the PR campaign, as we worked with the PR agency to develop the communications that set the stage for the car’s launch at one of the world’s most prestigious motorsport events in the U.K.
Designing the identity
Here again, we set out to deliberately avoid the familiar language of the world of racing, with its badges and symbols. The identity is grounded by a wordmark that is as sleek and linear as the car’s lines. Strong and bold, it embraces the subtleties of high-end design that are a hallmark of the car. The “05”, which was the father’s racing number, has its roots in the racing iconography of that time. Interior graphics were deliberately kept clean and spare, as was the helmet. To capture the story visually, we chose a photographic style that is at once gritty and stylish, nostalgic and contemporary.
The visual vocabulary extended into all communications and marketing materials, from the online experience to the press packages to the actual stand at the UK event.
Although it is very early in the car’s life, the identity has been tremendously well received and has been singled-out because of its distinctive, highly contemporary approach. The event in the UK was a huge success. The car and its story not only captivated the press and critics, but also won over its customers – the first orders
have already rolled in.
- When the opportunity arises to develop a brand identity that is as extensive and multi-faceted as this car, it is the true depth of the story and values that will provide the strongest foundation
- Understanding where a brand should not live is as important as understanding where it should
- Never shy away from using an electric blue purple in a male dominated world just because no one else has done it before
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