A logo is a key component of any corporate identity; arguably the first and foremost most identifiable trait of a company, even beyond the goods and services that it offers, is the sense of familiarity and quality that a logo inspires.
One does not need to own a vehicle with the Three Pointed Star to know that Mercedes-Benz cars exemplify quality and astute engineering, just like you don’t need to own Nike shoes to know, that the “Swoosh” logo represents stylish and well-designed footwear. And as with any logo, they’re also representative of the times, culture, and technology of the period – and organically reflect that change from time to time.
Arguably, one of the most identifiable logos to ever come from France is the diamond-shaped logo from Renault, which in its various shape and forms, has been around for around 90 years. From medallion to diamond, let's take a look at the story of the Renault Logo.
Renault was founded in 1898 by the three brothers Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault. The company was initially called Renault-Frères and the first logo in 1900 featured the brother’s initials, with two entwined Rs in an Art Nouveau medallion.
Used primarily on internal documents, this emblem was not used on brand vehicles, which instead featured the initials LR carved onto the wheel hubs, and the words “Renault-Frères” stamped on the running boards.
In 1906, the medallion was replaced by an image of the Renault AK that won the first French Grand Prix, shown inside a gear wheel.
In 1910, after becoming the sole manager of the company, Louis Renault changed the name from Renault-Frères to Société des Automobiles Renault (Society of Renault Cars) in 1910. The company name was changed again in 1922 to Société Anonyme des Usines Renault (Limited Company Renault Plants).
In 1923, Renault decided for the first time to place a front-end logo on its vehicles to make them more easily identifiable. It adopted a round grille with the name of Renault in the centre. The logo was both aesthetic and functional – also acting as a shroud that shielded the car’s horn.
The first instance of the diamond-shaped logo appeared in 1924 – with angles adapted to suit the lines of the car’s dihedral-shaped hoods. The new logo was introduced by the top-of-the-range 40 CV 'Type NM' sedan. This geometrical symbol was definitively adopted in 1925. In the first instance, the diamond was used exclusively on luxury sports vehicles identified by the name Stella from 1929.
Over the 1930s, the identity evolved gradually and was progressively adopted across the company. During this period, the company also gained a famous brand signature: Renault, l’Automobile de France (Renault, The Automobile of France).
In 1945, Renault became fully owned by the French State, and with it, rebranded to Régie Nationale des Usines Renault. The name Renault was used as the commercial brand. The brand signature evolved to become: Plus que jamais, Renault, l’Automobile de France (More than ever, Renault, the Automobile of France).
In 1972, Renault decided to refine its diamond logo – the Renault name was dropped – allowing the wider, more symmetric, and intricate logo design to stand by itself. Designed by visual artist Victor Vasarely, the “new” Renault diamond was first featured on the Renault 5.
In 2000, the brand adopted the brand signature Créateur d’Automobiles (Creator of Automobiles) and updated its visual identity, placing the diamond symbol inside a yellow square to deliver a more three-dimensional look in 2004. Three years later, the international signature became Renault - Drive the Change, heralding the company’s direction towards sustainable technology and the arrival of the electric vehicle range.
Renault’s renewed aspirations of combining technological innovation with products that appeal to the lifestyle of their customers brought about another revamp of their logo design - featuring a stronger larger more vertical diamond logo, which takes up a fundamental and dominant position on the grille for stronger visual identity.