Overview

The six-legged dog, the history of Eni’s trademark from 1953 to 1998
The history of the Eni trademark has evolved along with the company and, more generally, with the whole country since the end of the war to the present. The six-legged dog was created in 1952 as a symbol of the petrol produced by Agip in those years called Cortemaggiore. It was selected as the result of an open competition of ideas that rewarded a sketch by the sculptor Luigi Broggini, but presented by Giuseppe Guzzi. The idea appealed to Enrico Mattei, at the founding of Eni in 1953, who chose it as the symbol of the new body that would later become the company. In subsequent years the dog was redrawn by the Dutch designer Bob Noorda. This is the story of the evolution of the trademark in a series of steps that trace the history, not only of the company, but also the country.

The history of Italy, the history of Eni

1952: Italy had made it, it had managed to put the disaster of war behind it, and was now facing a future as an industrial power. Enrico Mattei decided to bet on the potential of his country, first on its oil fields, and then its gas reserves. From the beginning, the business strategy was associated with an advertising image in step with the times. This is the story of the campaign and the creation of the trademark through the milestones that have marked its path.

A new symbol: from 1953 to 1972

The trademark was the result of a desire to adopt a symbol that would makes us instantly recognisable all over the world. The way it which it was conceived was a competition, open to all Italians and strongly supported by the Enrico Mattei. Initially the trademark was only supposed to represent the Agip-produced petrol brand, Supercortemaggiore, but thanks to its great success, when the company was founded the following year, it became the symbol of Eni itself,.

May 1952: a competition of ideas

Held in May 1952, the competition focused on the advertising campaign of the Agip’s two flagship products, Supercortemaggiore petrol and Agipgas natural gas. The competition called for two billboards, two trademarks and the livery for a petrol pump. The competition was open to all Italians and offered total prize money of 10 million lire (in today’s money, about €160,000). The jury was made up of figures from the art world and the media. Within weeks more than 4,000 submissions had been received and the jury had to meet 14 times to select the winner. In September of 1952, a final session announced the winner: the six-legged dog, a graphic synthesis expressing strength, energy and optimism, values that could be seen in Italy as it underwent an economic miracle.

The 70s and 80s: the 1972 restyling by Bob Noorda

In the years after 1953, the six-legged dog was used to mark all of the company’s activities: from petrol stations designed by the architect Mario Baciocchi to the furniture and furnishings of the Motel Agip chain, and from advertising to corporate buildings. After Mattei’s death, the company felt the need to reconfigure the company’s communication structure and, in particular, to separate the aspects connected to the car from those meant for people. A change of sensibility that was well summarised by Bob Noorda, who oversaw the two six-legged dog redesigns in 1972 and 1998: “Otherwise there is the risk that everything will smell of petrol.” Initially the plan was to create a whole new trademark, as well as a new corporate identity for the Group. Contact was made with the design agency Unimark that appointed designer Bob Noorda to study and develop a new communications project for the network of Agip service stations. While the acronym Agip had still not achieved wide popularity, the six-legged dog was already deeply rooted in the collective Italian consciousness, also because, until then, the dog had been a constant feature of our communication campaigns, widely used on backgrounds and in a variety of contexts according to the imagination of the managers of distribution outlets and service stations.


The six-legged dog brandbook
Once it had been decided that the central element of the Eni trademark would remain the six-legged dog, it was time to determine the precise and uniform colours, shapes and backgrounds, in order to facilitate the use of the symbol for advertising and make it instantly recognizable. At that time, the service stations used more or less rectangular signs, supported by antennas, the new trademark would have a shape that enabled it to be easily inserted into these existing signs. The solution adopted by Unimark was a yellow square with rounded corners. The now famous six-legged dog was placed inside the box, but had to be slightly shortened and redesigned. Noorda then redesigned the Broggini dog and made it more modern: the crest is less pronounced lessening the suggestion of a chimera or Germanic gryphon, and the eye is round and bigger. A less ferocious, more familiar dog...

The new Eni typeface
The most important change of the 1972 re-design concerned the typeface used for the text. The original was narrow, tall and difficult to read, especially from a distance, while the company’s new typeface used a classic character, Standard Bold, customised by the insertion of a central white line. “The white line makes the character more dynamic, winding from one letter to another, creating a remarkable continuity, especially in longer words.” explained Bob Noorda, “the symbol that is evoked is that of the street, two traffic lanes separated by a white line.” The height of the trademark is the same as the height of the capital letter, the background colour on which the six-legged dog rests is 100% yellow while the colour of the flame is a red, a combination of 100% yellow and 100% magenta.

The new corporate identity
All of the companies of the Group immediately adopted the new image, which resulted in a strong sense of participation and a corporate identity, anticipated by the pioneering Mattei, was finally achieved, also in terms of image. In addition to the dog, shorter and inserted in the yellow ball, there was now also the company name, written as a proper name with a capital letter. “Also the shape of the logo recalls the shape of the six-legged dog and the red dot on the “i” in Agip evokes the flame,” added Noorda. Overall, it was a major change that indicated that an acronym had been overcome by a name. A choice that would also improve the corporate identity and brand awareness.

The 1990s and 2000s, the 1998 restyling of the logo

In the context of the privatisations of the 1990s, in 1995 Eni saw a major transformation from a National Hydrocarbons Agency to a public company. The change involved the need for a new brand restyling given that, having to going public, the company needed an image that was in line with a new context that expressed a renewed, agile and modern business organisation.


The new look (re)designed by Bob Noorda Once again, the company turned to Bob Noorda for a reconfiguration of the corporate image of the modern Eni Group. The new design project followed a progressive abstraction process based on simple but essential elements of considerable impact and appeal, able to bring together the various elements and confirm the value of group unity. The dog is removed from the yellow ball with a black border with rounded corners, which was very closely associated with the service stations, and is put together with the Eni logo in a perfect square. At its core the yellow square is crossed by a horizontal red line separating the two elements, namely the dog and the Eni logo. Another subtle shortening of the dog gives it the exact length of the Eni logo. And the final touch is the addition of the word Group.

2010: the most recent restyling of the six-legged dog

The history of the Eni trademark has evolved along with the company and, more generally, with the whole country since the end of the war to the present. The six-legged dog was created in 1952 as a symbol of the petrol produced by Agip in those years called Cortemaggiore. It was selected as the result of an open competition of ideas that rewarded a sketch by the sculptor Luigi Broggini, but presented by Giuseppe Guzzi. The idea appealed to Enrico Mattei, at the founding of Eni in 1953, who chose it as the symbol of the new body that would later become the company. In subsequent years the dog was redrawn by the Dutch designer Bob Noorda. This is the story of the evolution of the trademark in a series of steps that trace the history, not only of the company, but also the country.

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