Ferrari: Branding as easy as Formula 1, 2, 3


Stop a person in the street and ask them to describe a sports car.  Chances are their answer is likely to include the following: it will be red, the engine sound will be the roar of a metallic wildcat, and its appearance will invoke a feeling of Christmas morning.  The construction of this particular sports car schema can be attributed to Ferrari’s contribution to the motoring industry since Enzo Ferrari’s first car was constructed in 1946.


LaFerrari (F150) 2013

So when it comes to branding the basics, Ferrari have pretty much nailed it.  There are a multitude of books written on branding, so this blog will focus upon three key ingredients to a successful branding recipe: identification of brand values, communication of these brand values, and customer requirements, all the while relating it to Scuderia Ferrari, the F1 Racing division of the company.


The bedrock of everything that Ferrari stands for is also the reason why Enzo Ferrari called his company Scuderia Ferrari when he founded it in 1929.  The translation of Italian Scuderia means horses’ stables – he wanted to bring the ‘racing stable’ to the people and allow owner-drivers on to the racetrack. Therefore, from the stables to the racetrack, Enzo Ferrari’s and now Ferrari’s ‘passion for competition’ is the thread that binds the Ferrari tapestry in ‘One Brand, One Range’.  In the competitive spirit, a Ferrari’s performance both on the racetrack an on the road is not only fast, but faster than the competition. The inspiration for design of all Ferrari road cars is born from Scuderia Ferrari.  ‘Ferrari’ signifies the strong familial identity that promotes the brand’s values.


It has been said that Ferraris are not advertised on TV because people who can afford them are not sitting at home watching TV all day.  However, Ferrari doesn’t advertise at all.  Well, that is to say, it doesn’t advertise itself in the traditional way. Instead it implements advertising through success in Formula 1 Grand Prix.


F1 Ferrari 2014, Next racing in Singapore on 21 Sep 14

Formula 1 Grand Prix team, Scuderia Ferrari, is the oldest surviving team in the Grand Prix.  For those who don’t know their F1 from their shift key, ‘formula’ denotes a set of rules by which all competitors must abide, ‘1’ is the highest class of single seat auto racing that is sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) and ‘Grand Prix’ translates to ‘Great Prizes’.  The Grand Prix comprises a series of races with a points system that determines the World Championship winners both in Drivers’ and Constructors’ categories.

With F1 car speeds of up to 220mph (360kph) and capability of lateral acceleration in excess of 5g*, the technical capability of the cars depend on electronics, aerodynamics, suspension and design to deliver winning performances. Ferrari has had the most championship winners of all the teams competing in F1 today, with 15 years Drivers’ Champions and 16 years’ Constructors’ Champions.  The team has also had the most consecutive years at the top during Michael Schumacher’s reign: 5 years from 2000 to 2004.

As Formula 1 is the highest class of racing it is therefore the optimum medium to convey the high performance promise that the brand is based upon.  Ferrari takes all the F1 cars’ attributes – both technical and design – and delivers premium performance for all those who invest in a road car.  With Ferrari (and Mercedes) as the only teams in F1 to build both engine and chassis in house, the promise of matching good performance from F1 to road cars is well founded and it matches Enzo Ferrari’s desire to give owner-drivers ‘a racing car for the street’.

That is why advertising is not necessary.  Performance-based results in Formula 1, demonstrated by the best drivers in the fastest cars, sing louder than any advertising song and this is what drives their marketing strategy.

To quickly tip our hat to the finances behind F1 vs. advertising, Ferrari spent $167m on F1 in 2011 whilst Mercedes spent $210 million US in 2011 on advertising.

*fighter jet pilots are not permitted to operate above 9g.


So let’s talk about the logo.  There is a misconception of ‘branding’ that it is solely a matter of logos.  But branding is actually about the product to people interface.  Consistency is key; every ‘touchpoint’ is another chance to reinforce brand values.  The component parts of the Ferrari logo are the content, and colours.

7564showingFerrari Prancing Horse Logo: Cavallino Rampante

The Cavallino Rampante (Prancing Horse) has heroic origins.  It was the personal emblem of Francesco Baracca, Italy’s most successful airman during WWI.  Baracca was first a Cavalry Officer then a fighter pilot and he had the Cavallino Rampante painted on the fuselage of his aircraft.  Following his death the Baracca family offered Enzo Ferrari the opportunity to adopt the emblem for the Ferrari logo, which he did.


Francesco Baracca (1888-1918) standing by his wartime Spad VII aircraft

But in addition to representing the bravery and success of Baracca, the Cavallino Rampante also stands for heritage for Enzo Ferrari was himself assigned to the 3rd Alpine Artillery Division during WWI, horses providing the power pre-mechanisation of the army’s artillery and cavalry.  Furthermore, it is a visual reaffirmation of Enzo Ferrari’s ambition to bring driver-owners on to the racetrack (ref. stables).

The colours of the logo represent much the same things.  While traditionally the colour of Ferrari cars is red: ‘the colour of blood, the colour of passion, the colour of love’, the logo is predominantly Modena Yellow, the birthplace of Enzo Ferrari, where the company was founded and where Francesco Baracca undertook his military training.  This colour choice reinforces this message of history, heritage and a sense of belonging.  Sitting atop of the logo are the colours of the Italian flag: green, white and red.

If a ‘logo is a visual representation of everything [a] company stands for’, Ferrari’s logo is strongly symbolic.  It represents history, bravery, competitive spirit, a strong drive for success and a familial heritage.  These values that have promoted 60 years of ‘expertise in engineering and driving performance’ underpin the promise that Ferrari pledges to its customer base.

What makes people want to buy a Ferrari?  Bearing in mind that prices start at around £100k, buying a Ferrari is not only about buying a car that signifies success.  It is about becoming part of the Ferrari ‘tribe’ buying into the Ferrari name, the Ferrari family.  If the brand values are ‘pillars’ of the Ferrari religion then customers buying the product do so as a demonstration of faith and belief in the Ferrari promise.  The demographics of those who have purchased a Ferrari then reinforce this spirit of belonging, as Ferraris are a marker that ‘you’ve made it’.  This gives the brand exclusivity, luxury, wealth as well as the name.

For those who cannot afford a the car, Ferrari has gone down the route of increasing brand awareness by merchandising and creating market alliances with such names as Oakley and Microsoft XBOX.  From model car collectibles, Ferrari branded luggage, to sunglasses and gaming accessories, the Ferrari merchandise allows the mass market to be able to access and tap into the brand.  This is a tactical nod in recognition that not all motoring enthusiasts are in the wealthy elite; motoring enthusiasts, like Enzo Ferrari was himself from a young age, span all ages, creed, socio-economic backgrounds and gender.  By opening up the market to all, now everyone can buy into the Ferrari tribe, but it doesn’t erode the brand exclusivity.


Ferrari stores, numbering 27 worldwide


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