Sometimes, rules are made to be broken. When Pirelli first bannered their logo in 1908, the overly stretched capitalized “P” unexpectedly caused a positive stir. In fact, the logo was so highly celebrated and recognized to the extent that popular names in the calligraphy and typography industries hailed the unique logo as an example of innovation and fearless creativity.
Still, there are a few haters
Yet we all know how scholarly contemporary critics and designers are these days. Since everything is available on the Internet, and since everyone is entitled to his own opinion, these contemporary experts have lots to say about the highly celebrated radical logo. They hate the “immature” design and spend time finding countless errors just to prove to themselves that this logo needs a total redesign.
Breaking the rules
Indeed, the Pirelli breaks a lot of typography and logo design rules. The exceedingly stretched capitalized P, the odd contrast of sexy red and hot yellow, and the peculiar width of R and L’s are undoubtedly the worst way to represent a multinational tire and environmental technology company. However, its oddness is what makes it unique, outlandish yet outstanding, and optically unbearable but subconsciously unforgettable.
The overly and exaggeratedly stretched P
Contrary to what contemporary experts think, the overly and exaggeratedly stretched P was not just deliberately done to capture attention, but was an intentional approach to branding as well. For a brand that had not stood out outside of Europe since its inception, the only way their branding team could think of to send the tire company’s unconventional product to America and some progressive parts of Asia was through a radical approach to design for its would-be logo. And it was certainly radical. In the early 20th century, when Pirelli’s logo first caught the attention of a multitude of consumers, it was still believed that every design should adhere to strict design conventions.
The early Pirelli logo was a drastic defiance of calligraphy rather than graphic design. Giving the entire logo a closer look would expose its uneven lines, its inconsistency in measurements and spacing, and inappropriate utilization of white space. In layman’s terms, the first Pirelli emblem seemed like it had been drafted and drawn by an elementary-level student who had not even completed his first drawing class. It was deemed as amateur, lacking the seriousness and ferocity to ably represent what was seen as a man’s product–tires. It also took time for the general population to grasp the meaning behind the childish-looking design.
Irrefutably groundbreaking in an era when everyone was overly concerned with aesthetics, Pirelli took a great risk in launching a logo with no adherence to the written rule of design. Despite the criticism, there’s no doubt that the Pirelli logo has become one of the most splendid logos in design history.