Analysing Aston Martin, Bentley and Rolls-Royce brochures

For this blog post I am going to look at brochures of cars from three famous British luxury car makers; Aston Martin (Rapide S and Vanquish), Bentley (Continental GT) and Rolls-Royce (Ghost). Click on the links above to access the brochures. All images here are  taken from them.

Because my FMP is involving me re-designing the Range Rover promotional material, I am researching quality and luxury. Therefore I need to assess the highest standards. So I thought I’d do a comparison and see what I could learn.

Bentley was an obvious choice, because the Range Rover has been mentioned as a rival for the new Bentley SUV planned to launch in a couple of years. I then thought I’d look at Rolls-Royce and Aston Martin, who like Bentley produce extremely expensive, luxurious vehicles. While this is now heading above the Range Rover price range, some customers will own a Range Rover as a practical everyday car as well as own one or more of the cars featured here.

Front Covers:

Aston Martin have really produced an extremely minimal front cover, which pinpoints all attention onto the content. This grabs your attention in the way a cluttered front cover might not. Less is more in this case, there is no case of the brain struggling to decide on what to look at first. The gold finish of these creates a strong contrast against the black background. The way the logos reflect the light on the page gives the feeling that the logos are gold, obviously leading to connotations of gold, being an expensive, valuable material. Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.40.54 Rolls-Royce have taken an exceptionally minimal approach to the front cover, for the same reasons as Aston Martin. However, they use a palette of white, grey and burgundy, promoting a light, airy aesthetic. This is very calming, which is exactly the feeling Rolls-Royce says you get when you travel in one of these vehicles.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 08.27.59Bentley are far more like Aston Martin in their approach, with dark colours and use of texture to create an atmosphere. The big difference with this cover is that it shows the vehicle. These factors suggests the vehicle is not just a lump of different materials designed to do specific things, but instead has a personality to it. Personality is something humans can be attracted to, so I believe the aim here is to personify the car.  The reasoning for this is more than likely to be that it can create a desire from the audience, which is the same as when they see the vehicle in person.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.34.06 Summary: The front covers are very minimal, and respective of the qualities seen in the vehicle.

Illustration:

Aston Martin really make great use of highlighting the creative process involved, with stunning sketches included in the brochure to show the audience how the creativity in these sketches really has directly influenced the final product.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.41.49 Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.42.02 A wonderful illustration in the Bentley brochure is that of the engine working. I would think it is illustration mixed with photography, which really gives a mechanical feel to this page of the brochure, showing customers Bentley has always been a car company willing to explore the mechanical aspect of their vehicles.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.35.40 Illustrations in the Rolls-Royce brochure are not that common, but there is one here to highlight how the design came to be. Like the Aston Martin sketches which show the inside of the creative process as to how the shape came to be, this illustration focuses on the 102EX, the concept car that preceded the Ghost.
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Summary: Sophisticated illustrations are used to highlight the creative process behind the vehicle or provide a greater insight that photography could not achieve.

Design:

Rolls-Royce focuses on informing the customer what actually makes a car look like a Rolls-Royce, which was very interesting, as it highlights the key characteristics using a simple diagram. Not too keen personally on the image used, I would rather have seen a sketch used to highlight the creative process behind the finished product.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 08.28.39

Photography:

With Aston Martin, it very much follows on from the styles I mentioned when discussing the front cover. It is very moody, with strong use of contrast, and all attention is placed onto the car. There is no doubt the location of the photograph below adds to the car, bringing out the sharp creases that flow along its bodywork.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.41.10 However, with the Rapide S being more of a four-door GT than a supercar, featuring a simpler aesthetic, the photography is different, making use of a bright background with the lack of scenery there, so as not to add too much visual complexity and clutter.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.39.29Bentley is very keen to promote the Continental GT as an all-weather GT coupé, that has a high ability to cope with road conditions that are less than optimal. Therefore the photography features landscapes that do not always feature ‘perfect’ blue skies, with connotations of summer.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.34.41 Bentley also makes use of tiled galleries to convey a larger quantity of images at a smaller size. These show the vehicle as well as the landscapes, and are designed to draw the eye to certain features that the audience either didn’t, or couldn’t pick up from the larger images. I think this works reasonably well, although I do wonder if the images are all distracting to each other, as there is not much of a space. However, in Bentley’s defence, there is a contrast between the images, which helps the eye, instead of it seeing all the images flowing into each other.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.34.51I selected this image by Bentley as it shows an up-close image of the wheel and brake disc, where the wheel has blurred due to it being rotated. The connotation is that it is rotating at a vast rate, suggesting a strong motion, and therefore speed, perfect to lead into a page about performance figures. It also quite neatly highlights Bentley’s self-levelling wheel nuts, which keeps the ‘B’ the right way up, at least to a certain speed.
Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.35.57 Rolls-Royce have taken the opportunity to highlight to their audience, that while their cars may look traditional from the outside, they actually feature up to date, modern, cutting edge technology. To show this, they feature the car in the same area as modern architecture, with the thought being that seeing the two together will provide a link in the audience’s mind, as they think “That’s the car the person that owns that house wants so it must be modern…”Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 08.28.49

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Summary: Selling the car to the heart is the main focus here. It also shows how well a car fits into a particular lifestyle, of which the customers are likely to have. With expensive brands such as this, it is more than ever about a premium lifestyle.

Typography:

Aston Martin has really nailed the art of using minimal type to express the emotion around the cars. These ‘slogans’ are really concise, which means they have more impact on the audience than a block of text would, as it is quicker to comprehend what is being said and there is not so much of it for the brain to decipher. Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.41.03

For the Vanquish brochure (above), Aston Martin used a very ornamental serif typeface, that really maximised its forms, where parallels can be drawn to the car, which itself matches these qualities. For the Rapide S brochure (below) a sans-serif typeface is used predominantly, highlighting the aesthetic simplicity the car has, but with the variance in stroke length, allows there to be a certain character that you could not achieve otherwise.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.39.10 Bentley uses two typefaces throughout, a script based one for the titles, that has connotations of a personal touch, as buying a Bentley is a more involved, human process than it is when buying a ‘normal’ car so to speak, and a traditional, serif typeface for the copy that fits with Bentley’s traditional values. Despite featuring the same width of margin as the Range Rover brochure I analysed, it is surprising how much better it looks. I think this is mainly because of the typefaces not being bland.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.34.29

Bentley also uses interesting typography combined with photography. As can be seen with the spread below it poses a question, in this case “Why stop when you’re having fun?” next to an image of the Bentley on a wet road, where the four wheel drive it possesses comes to fruition, giving the car extra traction, keeping you safe and on the road. The negative space around it is odd, but works well, as it really focuses your attention in on it, as otherwise you could be easily distracted by the image and not bother to look at it.Screen-Shot-2013-03-26-at-07.35

Summary: One of the areas with the biggest differences between the brochures. It will be very important to get the typographic balance correct with the Range Rover brochure.

The bespoke nature of these vehicles:

An immaculate workshop. Smart employees. Protective blankets over body panels. These are the signs of working on a £150,000+ vehicle that the audience expect to see. After all, they want to know if they order a car, they want care and attention lavished on it, to ensure everything will be perfect. Rolls-Royce has, in my opinion, done a fantastic job of conveying this in their brochure.

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“Commissioning a Rolls-Royce is one of life’s
unforgettable moments”

That quote from the spread below, summed up the entire ethos of Rolls-Royce right there. The wording is very carefully put together, and hangs off the word ‘commissioning’. You’re not just merely buying a car, as you would buy a phone, or something straight off the shelf, but you are having an active role in deciding what you want in a unique product. Even for customers used to Rolls-Royce’s, you sense the pride they must have when they go to their dealer and choose what specification they want their car to be built to.

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Aston Martin has taken the same approach as Rolls-Royce in terms of showing attention to detail, but instead of taking three spreads, with large illustrations, it has chosen instead to put it onto one spread, with a large collection of thumbnails showing all aspects of attention that goes into Aston Martin, from design to manufacture. This gives a much more detailed insight into the company, allowing the audience to know who the effort that goes into producing these crafted vehicles.

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A very clever move from Bentley with their ‘bespoke commissions’ is to show how you can take any object to them, and they will be able to match the colour for your car. The example below is the pale blue and cream guitar, which has been translated into the car specification you see. Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.36.24 There are also a few carefully placed images on the spread below of people spending attention on the car, finishing it to Bentley’s extremely high standard at their Crewe factory, although I don’t think they are as successful as the Rolls-Royce images. This is because they are too small, and don’t show as much information to the audience. Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.36.32

Summary: This is crucial with a luxury car such as the ones featured here. It helps to instil the confidence in the audience the vehicles produced are tailored to the customers.

Swatches/Templates:

After mentioning when I analysed Audi’s brochures that their swatches were too small, and that you couldn’t get a true representation, this is really suitable. A large swatch allows the audience to examine which finish is right for them, important when with the wood below, they all have specific characteristics with the grain that needs to be seen at a large size.
Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 08.29.48Bentley really does an excellent job at showing how the colours from the brochure translate into their mock-ups. This, at a glance can inform the audience as to whether the finish is suitable for them or not. It removes a lot of the guesswork, which is very useful for personalised bespoke schemes, as there is not always an example car the dealer can show the customer for them to look at before they place their order. And when you’re spending a large amount of money on a vehicle, you don’t want to take risks on what it will look like.Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 07.37.19

Summary: Customers need to know more about what they are selecting, so they can make the right decision on an important purchase.

Conclusion:

  • I believe there is no reason why the Range Rover promotional materials can’t aim to reach the standards seen here. After all, a decent proportion of owners will be well accustomed to owning cars from these manufacturers.
  • These companies really know how to approach customers in the best manner. The level of quality is something more car makers need to take into account. Wording is key here, things like ‘commissioning’ rather than ‘buying’. It makes a big difference.
  • All of these brochures are extremely impressive, and all achieve their aims using similar methods, but in completely different manners, something which is impressive, and is a good sign for my FMP.
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