Protoyping Brand Expressions – Renault's Grand Brand Design Gesture

branding agency Melbourne

Yes, another Prototype Car Design
Every year it seems, at every motor show, every second car brand is unveiling their latest Prototype car. A new piece of design whimsy to rev the petrol headed car obsession and keep the wheels of brand building turning. But how much real value do they add to the brand? Beyond a bit of eye candy, what do they say with any real meaning about where the brand is taking us?

Well it seems Renault’s latest motor prototype is a little different. ‘Frendzy’ is the fourth in a series of concept cars produced under Renault’s senior vice president of design Laurens Van den Acker, each based on a different stage in the human life cycle. As a premise I love this. Renault is applying the wonders of design to produce concept cars intent on solving an unmet need in our lives, not just design for design sake. Sounds like commercial R&D meets disciplined brand strategy and design. The all-electric ‘frendzy’ is designed to meet the multi-faceted, complex and demanding needs of modern family life.

The driver’s environment is conceived of as an ‘office on wheels’. a blackberry playbook tablet pluggable into the dashboard offers mobile computing, as well as the means by which the text, video, and images on the car’s exterior screen can be set. This screen is a 37-inch wide display on the passenger side of the car, facing foot traffic, and can be used for commercial purposes as easily as it can be turned off at the close of the workday.

Throughout, the vehicle makes use of tablet computers, with another sliding out from the back of the driver’s seat for middle row passengers. alongside a chalkboard slate integrated into the sliding door, these features are designed for the entertainment of children and other passengers. This looks and feels like the kind of car Apple would make to create a new category.

Whilst capable of switching relatively easily to a casual, ‘family’ mode, the modular interior is specifically geared for business use. sensors located on each door can automatically log the loading and unloading of packages equipped with RFID chips, offering users real-time inventory of their stock in transit. magnets help secure loads to the floor, and the fabric roof adapts to the shape of bulky objects. The front passenger seat folds forward to free up space, while the rear bench seat is integrated into the floor. The vehicle’s back hatch pivots far into the roofline, facilitating the loading of tall items. Interior lighting and coloured repeaters in the head and tail -lamps shift from green to orange to reflect the switch from work to family ambiance.

Exterior designer Deyan Denkov explains, ‘the concept of an asymmetric body design was the most logical way
to express this vehicle’s two roles. from the very start, I wanted to move away from the traditional format
for commercial vehicles and, in doing so, show that this type of vehicle could also be more emotional,
more dynamic and more attractive.’

Renault collaborated with the Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique / Musique to customize a range of sounds that the vehicle emits, a safety feature for pedestrians since electric vehicles are silent. the business or passenger car mode and vehicle side can be distinguished by the sound signature alone.

The ‘renault frenzy’ concept vehicle will be on exhibition at the 64th frankfurt motor show in Germany this September.

And what brand concept is complete without a cool clip on YouTube?

Dave Ansett, Brandamentalist
Designer of Brand Relevance
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