Its own to be exact. This week Alfa Romeo announced a new visual identity. The signs are not good.
It’s invariably worrying when auto manufacturers fiddle with their visual identity. Even if you’re a VW, the fact that you see fit to mess about with your trademark suggests the wrong business decisions are being prioritised and at the very least, the marketing people have run amok.
Yesterday, buried amidst the hoopla surrounding the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s semi-reveal, was the announcement of a restyled Alfa emblem. Doubtless, FCA bosses will tell you it has been simplified and modernised, but in fact the changes are a little more profound than that. The changes appear to be more of an attempt to whitewash the fabled Milanese biscione’s violent history by removing overt references to the crusades.
Alfa’s PR also now claim the serpent isn’t swallowing the hapless figure, but in fact giving birth to it; which of course is patent nonsense. If we accept that the preceding version was possibly a little politically incorrect, we also have to concede that what we have now is merely a blander, less nuanced iteration of a far richer image. But basically, for a company awash in debt, is this really what FCA should be lavishing their hard-borrowed cash upon?
Marchionne of course has form here. A couple of years ago, FCA also saw fit to alter Lancia’s famous shield emblem – under the guise of modernisation. Although in that case FCA’s intent was probably more about diluting Lancia’s visual identity as a prelude to indulging in one of the most shameless bouts of identity theft in recent history, while simultaneously giving some vacuous brand consultancy a reason to exist.
Let’s face it, if FCA management are prepared to blithely abandon 105-years of heritage to ensure nobody’s offended, it really doesn’t augur well for Alfa’s revival. And even if the resurgence is real, is it likely to be one Alfa enthusiasts will celebrate for long? It’s far more likely be a clinical, derivative Italo-German hybrid that cleaves to sector norms as resolutely as the car FCA displayed to the world two days ago.
In May last year, I made a somewhat dramatic prediction regarding the Marchionne plan – which went something as follows; “Your sacred cows will be eviscerated on the altar of commercial expediency before you and your children’s horrified gaze. Solutions will be quick, they will be dirty and there will be blood”. On present evidence I see little reason to modify my opinion.