Even as we enter an era in motorsports branding where manufacturers primarily own color and sponsors own livery designs; given current budgets in Formula 1, it’s rare today for any sponsor to own a livery. This typically comes with naming rights. The team brand and sponsors either gel seamlessly or sponsor commitments and branding outweigh manufacturer driven designs when the price is right. The question I would pose to any manufacturer at an elite level remains: what’s the price of not owning the livery as well as the color scheme absent a predefined level of sponsorship?
This may sound like a paradox since manufacturers largely drive brand design in Formula 1. Few other forms of motorsport follow this model: Ferrari is red, Mercedes is silver, McLaren is rocket red/orange, Renault is yellow, Lotus is green, Ford is blue. Each marque can easily be defined by color alone. That’s powerful brand equity.
Yet, I remain a firm believer that if no design language exists, the impression leaves much to the imagination; and color, while a unique identifier when owned, may not be enough to sell an idea. To be fair, there are plenty of brands defined by palette: Tiffany, UPS, and Jägermeister to name a few. Still, the primary identifiers of any graphic design are color and form. And if color is the dialect, then form is the language. Without language it becomes next to impossible to communicate.
The Enigma F1 is potentially antithetical to all that modern F1 branding represents: daring, bold, and unmistakable. I can safely say that this concept nearly designed itself starting with the illustrative Enigma brand identity. Ambigrams are unique in that they are uninfluenced by orientation. Benefits of this in the context of any livery design, not the least of which include design symmetry, cannot be stressed enough. The Enigma brandmark is itself an iconographic element – at once a pictograph as well as a logotype – so I knew immediately it would become the basis for a compelling and instantly recognizable design. The question was how best to adapt the look and feel of a geometric labyrinth inspired mark to the flowing lines of an F1 car.
Ironically enough, most of the focus with this concept was spent achieving the right balance of light to dark and the correct burgundy red. When combined with the livery program as a whole, the color scheme brings just enough differentiation to supplement the black and white core colors resulting in an imprintable design.