Pentastar Returns as Symbol for the New Chrysler
21st August, 2007
The Pentastar, which for decades symbolised Chrysler Corporation, is back as the corporate logo for the "New Chrysler".
After a nine-year hiatus, the five-pointed star within a pentagram returns with a bold, three-dimensional update.
“Having the Pentastar back – in its new form – serves as the perfect symbol for The New Chrysler,” said Steven Landry, Executive Vice President - North America Sales and Marketing, Service and Parts. “The Pentastar represents all the pride that employees feel for the 85-year history of Chrysler and the confidence we have in our new direction.”
The original Pentastar had five triangles which floated independently in a pentagon shape, broken by a five-pointed star in the middle.
The new Pentstar, with some changes by Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President – Design, conveys strength and precision by fusing the ends of the five triangles to enclose the star and complete the pentagon.
“What we wanted to do was give the mark a look of extremely high quality,” Creed said. “We closed up the gaps in geometric unity and added a sense of solidity that gave the star shape a much slimmer, high quality, precise appearance.”
The triangles rise towards the centre and are brushed to add texture, while the star is highly polished to add a sense of precision and give the Pentastar a three-dimensional look.
“I do not envision us using this mark on our products, only on buildings, signage, corporate stationary and business cards,” Creed said. “It’s about who we are, not what we build.”
The new Pentastar will be rolled out in all new corporate ads.
“Even during the past decade, the Pentastar never disappeared. The Pentastar literally towered over the company and all employees and has been a source of pride,” Landry said, referring to the Pentastar that tops the Chrysler world headquarters building.
History of the Pentastar
The Pentastar was designed in 1962 when Chrysler Corporation President Lynn Townsend decided the company needed a new symbol to represent all of the Corporation’s brands.
Townsend wanted a symbol with a strong, classic look that would be instantly recognisable, but was universal — without written words — allowing it to be used in all countries and across many cultures.
“He was really bothered by the fact that there was no corporate identity programme that made the Chrysler dealerships in a town stand out. And so he embarked on an effort to tie all these dealerships together in some readily identifiable manner, so that wherever you were, no matter what town it was, the Chrysler dealership would stand out,” said Barry Dressel, Manager – Walter P. Chrysler Museum and Heritage Communications, Chrysler.
The Pentastar was selected from more than 800 suggestions that a team from the design firm Lippincott & Margulies Inc. proposed to the company.
“We were looking for something that would not be too complicated for people to remember and still have a very strong engineered look to it,” said Robert Stanley, the Detroit office vice president and Chrysler account executive at Lippincott & Margulies, who is credited with designing the Pentastar. “We wanted something people could look at and say, ‘This was not done freehand’.”
Stanley also designed the former blue colour scheme for the symbol and the name for the design. Contrary to popular belief, the five-pointed star does not represent the five Chrysler brands that were in existence at the time - Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, Imperial and the HVAC division Airtemp.
In 1963, the Pentastar logo began appearing on the right front quarter panel of Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth vehicles (or on the left front quarter in right-hand drive markets such as Britain and Australia).
Chrysler Corporation soon put the Pentastar to work as a bonnet ornament on many Dodge, Chrysler and Plymouth vehicles, particularly in the 1980s when Chairman Lee Iacocca revived the company with the success of the new minivans. The Pentastar also appeared at the top of dealership signs, on office stationary, annual reports and just about anywhere Chrysler did business.
In June 1996, the company dedicated the new headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan, which included an office tower crowned by a two-story-high glass Pentastar.
After the 1998 merger that resulted in the formation of DaimlerChrysler, the Pentastar was replaced as the corporate symbol. But it didn’t entirely disappear.
“I point out to people that the easiest place to find one, all during the years of DaimlerChrysler was, if you just look on the glass of Chrysler products, there was always that distinctive little Pentastar, right on the glass. If you look at a piece of window glass it’s usually in the lower right corner,” Dressel said.
Before the Pentastar
In 1924, Walter P. Chrysler introduced the first vehicle with the Chrysler name – the Chrysler Six – and a new logo. The Chrysler symbol was a ribbon like those awarded at American country fairs, emblazoned with the Chrysler name and two “thunderbolts”, which were actually Z’s in honour of Chrysler engineer Fred Zeder.
When Walter P. Chrysler formed the Chrysler Corporation in 1925, the Chrysler Six logo became the new logo for the company, but only for a short time. A new logo for the new company was quickly provided – an oak tree above the words “From Many Roots, Standardized Quality” (kindly excuse the American spelling of 'standardised'... Editor).
“The whole thing was pretty cryptic. First of all, what did this oak tree have to do with automobiles. And the slogan itself was pretty cryptic,” Dressel said. “So, what they did was essentially go back to the ribbon seal.”
By the mid-1950s, at the dawn of the space race, the ribbon seal had become a quaint symbol of a bygone era. Then, in 1955, Chrysler’s new design chief Virgil Exner introduced the Forward Look design concept, emphasised by lowered rooflines and long bonnets that made cars sleeker and aggressive looking. Exner also designed the Forward Look symbol – two chevrons turned sideways – as a futuristic logo that captured his new styling. The Chrysler ribbon seal and many other logos disappeared and by 1957, the Forward Look symbol began appearing on Chrysler vehicles, in television commercials and on company brochures. Exner’s designs brought Chrysler to the forefront of automotive styling in the late 1950s.
However, 1961 was considered the last year of the Forward Look design and in 1962, Chrysler President Lynn Townsend ordered work to begin on a new corporate symbol.
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