Ahead of massive EV push, GM makes a major logo change

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General Motors

For just the fifth time in its 113-year history, General Motors has tinkered with its corporate logo. GM’s long-running blue square was introduced in 1964 but since then had only received minor tweaks in advance of this all-new, lowercase redesign. The change comes as the company continues to project to the world its pending transition to an electrified, zero-emissions future.

Revealed as part of a new marketing campaign dubbed “Everybody In,” the logo takes a softer approach than the block-letter example that preceded it. Rounded edges and lower-case font are supposed to create a more inclusive feel, according to GM. The underlined M is intended to tie back to the logo it replaces, while the negative space inside the second letter reminds folks of a two-prong electric plug.

“There are moments in history when everything changes,” said Deborah Wahl, GM’s global chief marketing officer. “We believe such a point is upon us for the mass adoption of electric vehicles. Our new brand identity and campaign are designed to reflect this.”

We’ve known of GM’s impending EV push since March of last year, when it revealed its new Ultium battery platform, a skateboard-like structure that GM says will underpin 30 new EVs, from the upcoming Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV to the ultra-macho GMC Hummer EV and an electric pickup. GM has also said that by the end of this year it will jump into the cargo van space, hoping to stake its claim in the growing world of logistics.

2022 GMC Hummer EV chassis
GM’s Ultium battery platform is modular enough to work in everything from the burly Hummer EV (pictured here) to the slick and silky Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV due out in 2023. GMC

Of course, with a shift as large as this in the works, there’s bound to be some friction. Cadillac recently notified dealers that they’d be required to either invest heavily in EV infrastructure or take hefty six-figure buyouts to close down their franchises. Plenty of them opted to take the check and run for the hills, a more-than logical choice, as our own Jack Baruth has said. (Of the last quarter’s total sales for Cadillac’s flagship Escalade, 43 percent commanded six-figure price tags. Big, bulky, somewhat thirsty SUVs and trucks are still the cash engines of the GM brands.)

To help spread the word to those not constantly monitoring the automotive landscape, GM released a one-minute short film, opened and closed by Malcolm Gladwell, five-time New York Times best-seller and host of the popular podcast Revisionist History. The short focuses heavily the people that make up what GM is calling, “generation E,” and aims to show how EVs are meant to be an inclusive concept that can work just as well for a ranching family as they do for a coastal surfer.

Leaving aside whether you consider this logo to be a baffling lowercase effrontery or a long-overdue update, let’s try to appreciate what this shift represents. One doesn’t need to be an industry expert to understand that holistic change at any massive multinational company is extraordinarily difficult. However contentious this graphic design update is just scratches the surface of the various battles that must be going on in the RenCen as we speak. If this logo is any indication, GM won’t be pulling any punches when it comes to its electrified future. When they land, they’ll just be soft, friendly punches.

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