In 1968 Mattel launched Hot Wheels, a competitor to the more realistic Matchbox brand. Hot Wheels offered cars with funk, style, and of course fast! “The fastest metal cars in the world!” More importantly for us graphic designers and branding junkies, it debuted a hand done logo that is pure SoCal.
Over the years, Mattel had made changes to its Hot Wheels logo and they felt it was time for another update. With household awareness in the upper 90 percentile, the brand enjoys enormous notoriety and global recognition. The challenge was to refresh the logo without destroying its brand equity.
The primary goal was to bring the render style up to meet current trends. Therefore, Mattel’s expectation for the refresh was primarily a fresh color render with minor adjustments to the line work if needed.
We felt the most recent logo had drifted too far from its origins and we wanted to make dramatic moves. We would start with adjusting the base flame silhouette and then move into the hand done letterforms. Once completed, we would seek a render style that fit the times. Below you can see some of the silhouette tests and sketched letterforms.
Shown above is the before and after designs. The modified flame silhouette respectfully harkens back to the 1968 original but provides a modern graphic design. The letterforms are updated and sculpted to fit cleanly with proper spacing. A fully airbrushed style render and superflat were provided. The Mattel team were pleasantly surprised to see the dramatic adjustments. Over time, Mattel gravitated to using the superflat render, and is used in the Hot wheel trade dress today.