Design for a transportation future

We are constantly rethinking the role of the car in the modern world. The term “car” is developing from a private means of transport to an on-demand vehicle to the promise of a self-driving lounge. Identity systems for automotive brands reflect these changing ideas. They are pushing brand teams to chase a certain fluidity – they are quickly moving between online and offline worlds, the now and the future.

In today's digital landscape, automotive branding involves a more fundamental change: the transition from a focus on a specific product to a focus on the advancement of a number of more comprehensive, integrative ideas, goods and services. Brands are now selling an ecosystem beyond the car. These are the de facto considerations for the contemporary transport brand.

Our common attention when renaming automobiles is initially drawn to the logo. In the latest updates, such as the recently announced efforts by Nissan, VW and BMW, there has been a close conversation about how these brands prefer flat design and simplification.

It is more interesting, however, that when we look at the brand structure in the transport sector, we see a race for the mobility operating system (OS) – the interface layer that determines our experience in and around the car. In this area, the driver can perform a variety of functions that go beyond driving – managing entertainment, creating maps, making parking reservations – all on the way to autonomy (self-driving). For mobility brands, this type of association is the Holy Grail. However, technology-based mobility brands such as Uber are threatening overall car ownership.