26 May 2017
It’s a gorgeous sunny Friday here in London, which is perhaps why I have selected the Michelin logo as the topic of “Classic Logos” today.
It’s hard not to feel at least a twang of affection for the Michelin logo. That cute little sunny day dude called, “Bibendum” constructed from tyres.
But Bibendum has not always appeared so jolly…
Michelin is a French company officially incorporated in 1889. During this time, using characters was trendy. The Michelin brothers simply saw their product at an exhibition and commented that the tyres looked like a little man - great logo idea for their new company! They hired a poster artist O’Galop (Marius Rossillon) to draw him et voila, he was an immediate success.
It is interesting to note that this was a time when there were no graphic designers, marketing departments, perception managers and so on. Businesses could be more honest and less self-conscious of who they really are.
Hence, Bibendum was portrayed as a successful, fat, champagne drinking, cigar smoking business executive always out to promote his product and make money.
Over the past 120 so years, Michelin has actually tried to stop using Bidendum. But they always go back because of his extreme success. Of course now Bidendum can never be seen drinking a huge glass of champagne before driving, or constantly chain smoking while chatting up the ladies. He’s slimmed down a lot, so that he is more muscular than fat.
And obviously he is a cute little sunny day dude, not a reflection of the company executives, as this no longer goes down well with consumers.