Makeover for the Michelin Man

The Michelin Man can perhaps be seen as the Doctor Who of the tyre world. Not only has his appeal endured over the decades, every so often he changes his physical form and habits while retaining his core values. So far Bibendum, as he’s also known, has represented Michelin in eight guises. Now he has morphed once again, and the 9th Michelin Man is ready to show his face to the world.

Starting life as a drinking-friendly figure inspired by a pile of tyres at the close of the 19th century, through evolutions that include the monocle-wearing character exuding joie de vivre and the icon of pop culture beloved by truckers in the 1970s, and up to the slimmer, environmentally-aware incarnation introduced early this century, the Michelin Man has remained one of the most recognisable brand icons of all time.

Michelin says the evolution of Bibendum has remained “faithful to his timeless modernism” and incarnates what Michelin is as a company and what it wants to be: An everyday partner, discreet, considerate and reassuring. “In reality, a brand is a living thing,” comments Claire Dorland-Clauzel, brand and external relations director at Michelin. “A brand represents the company and develops with the world around it. Today, it must be in a position to dialog, understand and express emotions

“By evolving all of our communication, we are turning towards our customers, towards their life moments, joy, passion, emotion, caring… This renewal proves the company’s modern approach and the longevity of its reason for being,” Dorland-Clauzel continues. “It underlines our desire to be at the heart of the lives of everyone, at the heart of human development and to find every day, together, the ‘best way forward’ for us all.”

The Michelin brand (l) and Group logos are designed to convey different attitudes

The Michelin brand (l) and Group logos are designed to convey different attitudes

The new visual identity has two logos: one for the Michelin Group, the other for the commercial brand. Whilst similar to the previous logo, the two designs aim to portray a well-defined Michelin Man who is more visible and expressive. Each logo, however, conveys a different attitude. The Brand logo, says Michelin, “salutes our present and future customers with a welcoming and protective gesture,” while the Group logo “indicates the future and our vision for tomorrow’s mobility.”

A dedicated site has been set up to share the story of the Michelin Man’s evolution. Visitors can also enter a graphic design contest in order to win limited-edition Bibendum figurines.

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