Mini gets serious with new ‘grown-up’ brand direction

Mini is seeking to position itself as a more serious and socially-conscious car marque with the launch of a new visual identity and brand philosophy.

A shot from Mini's upcoming ad campaign, reflecting its more serious approach
A shot from Mini’s upcoming ad campaign, reflecting its more serious approach

At a launch event for its new Clubman model in Berlin this week, Mini said it would embark on “an important realignment of our brand that generations from now will remember as the start of a new era for Mini”.

This includes a simpler version of its logo and a move away from its humourous, tongue-in-cheek approach to brand communications in favour of a more practical, product-focused tone.

Peter Schwarzenbauer, board member at Mini’s parent company BMW, explained that the new direction reflected changes in society since the German group acquired the British brand in 2001.

“Consumption is less of a priority and people are questioning more and more the purpose of everything and the benefits [of products] for ourselves and for society,” he said. “People are more focused on ‘the essential’.”

The new brand identity will debut in advertising for the Clubman when the model goes on sale in October. A preview of print and outdoor ads shown at the event revealed a more sparse, sombre image in comparison to recent Mini campaigns, such as ‘Not Normal’ in 2013.

The familiar black background used in ads over the last 14 years has gone and instead Mini will focus on creating a separate identity for each of what it called its five “superhero” models.

Mini's simpler logo
Mini’s simpler logo

Although the Clubman is the first to receive the treatment, the other models will also gain a new identity as Mini looks to diversify its sales and make consumers more aware of its different product lines. The pared-down 2D logo, which will replace the current 3D ‘badge’ version, will unite all brand activations.

Mini also used the launch event to announce a new scheme that will allow Mini owners to enter their car into BMW Group’s car sharing service DriveNow, thereby allowing customers to make money from their vehicles when not in use. The brand is also moving into start-up accelerators that will focus on solutions for “urban living”, with the first project planned for New York.

Marketing Week’s exclusive feature on Mini’s new brand direction will appear in the 9th July 2015 issue.