Responses by Chris Chapman, head of design, Droga5 London
Background: Cupra was previously the performance badge for Seat and has recently been launched as a stand-alone brand. The category is well established with brands that compete along “linear” metrics of performance and technology. Typically, drivers are barely present in comms. Cupra’s brand strategy, “Another Way,” was based on the premise of a more holistic understanding of performance. The main aspect of this was to focus on the driver and driving experience. Our brief was to create work that visually differentiated Cupra from its competitors in a way that reflected this strategy—and made the product look great.
Reasoning: To reflect Cupra’s approach to performance, we created a visual identity that literally showed the product from unexpected angles—a simple product-focused way to stand apart in the category. We introduced context to the car with fluid modular spaces for imagery. Created on an unconventional grid, these shapes were responsive to both the car, the driver and the environment, giving the driver and context real visibility in the finished portraits.
Challenges: In my experience, as a designer working within an advertising agency, branding agencies create beautiful and thoughtful guidelines that advertising agencies tend to ignore. This is because ad agencies are always trying to say something new. I know first-hand they want flexibility and the most challenging aspect was creating workable guidelines that would allow for both functional consistency and the level of flexibility I knew ad agencies wanted.
Visual influences: The Cupra logo was an established brand asset, as was the design of the cars themselves, so this was always a primary consideration for us as we developed the look and feel. Our main objective was how to combine different contexts—like the imagery—with the product in a way that felt ownable and appropriate for a performance car brand. We found a design system by Armin Hofmann that used circular grids to make similar fluid shapes. We liked the responsiveness of this. We ended up with more angular and less fluid versions to link to the Cupra logo and the shapes of the car features—like the headlights.
Time constraints: We were developing advertising campaigns in parallel and wanted everything to be consistent. It was great to have direct control of how our work was going out into the world. But it was a challenge to separate the requirements of our immediate production realities from the final shape of the guidelines.
Specific demands: We pitched with the visual idea and the client responded well to it. The client had a clear understanding that the brand would need to sit outside of traditional norms in order to cut through, and this meant we had a clear, shared idea of where the work was going from early on in the process.