Ducati has been around for almost 90 years now. It has developed one of the most loyal fan bases in motor culture. Pretty incredible considering they didn't even build motorcycles for the first 30 years.
Here we take a look at the decade-by-decade evolution of their brand and logo.
As the hardcore Ducatisti know, the famed namesake didn’t start out in motorcycles, but rather in radios. La Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati was established July 4, 1926 by brothers Bruno, Adriano and Marcello Cavalieri Ducati. Sometime in1927 they publicly showed their first Ducati logo. The symbol depicts two S's crossed above a thunderbolt, the symbol of electricity.
La Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati expanded and relocated from Via Guidotti in the heart of Bologna to Borgo Panigale, the sight of Ducati headquarters to this day. This was during the height of fascism. Keeping up with the graphic design of the era, Ducati changed its logo. The emblem with the SSR brand (Società Scientifica Radio Brevetti Ducati) made its first appearance on Ducati products in 1931. It would remain the official symbol until 1954 - the year the company was split to differentiate its electronics production from it’s mechanical and motorcycle production.
It wasn’t until 1949 that Ducati actually started producing it’s own complete motorcycles. At that point, they needed to mark the tank with the name of the manufacturer. The SSR symbol was too small on it’s own, so it was used in conjunction with the DUCATI namesake logo, along with the motorcycle's displacement. Although the style of the logo would continue to evolve, the typeface used would remain unchanged until 1975.
In the fifties, Ducati gained world fame with its victories earned on motorcycles engineered by Fabio Taglioni. This period also gave rise to what are possibly the two best known emblems to enthusiasts of Ducati.
The logo utilizing a "D" flanked by a laurel wreath appeared in 1958 on all production and racing motorcycles, with the official symbol of the 'Meccanica’ division - the group that manufactured the motorcycles, was used on all collateral.
The sixties were called the 'Wing' years. Following a tradition common to other Italian manufacturers like Moto Guzzi and Moto Morini, the tanks of Ducati bikes were adorned with an eagle. The first use of this logo was in 1962, on their small two-stroke mopeds and scooters. It would later find its way on to four-stroke bikes as well.
With the youth movement and 'Easy Rider’ spirit becoming popular, Ducati adopted an emblem that would become the symbol of a motorcycle destined to play a big role in the company's history, the Scrambler.
The logo identifying the 250 to 450 cc Ducatis was the famous black wing, with the Ducati name written in cursive. It became so popular with young riders of the era that it is still identified as the 'wing of the Scrambler.'
Along with the Scrambler's wing and the Ducati eagle, certain models sported the classic Ducati logo, which was also used on the 500 GP, the 750 Imola and first L-twins.
During the seventies - 1975 to be exact - It was decided it was time to change the classic Ducati logo. Ducati decided to launch itself into the world of design. Several studies of motorcycles and the design of the new logo were put into the hands of Giorgetto Giugiaro, who had achieved fame for so many different vehicles as was discussed here.
A very slightly revised, more legible version of the same logo with different line weights was introduced in 1977, resulting in the easily recognizable symbol that would also be worn on the racing bikes of the era. Mike Hailwood’s success at the Tourist Trophy gave people a reason to embrace the new look. This logo would be used at least until 1985. This permutation of the Ducati logo designed by Giugiaro had a second life, appearing later on the tank of the Ducati MH900e.
The eighties saw Cagiva take over the helm of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer. In 1985, when the Castiglioni brothers (owners of Cagiva) took over the company, the Ducati symbol was again redesigned to conform to the style of the motorcycles from Varese.
The first motorcycles denoting the Ducati symbol with the elephant, in keeping with a Cagiva tradition, were the last MHRs produced by Ducati. The typeface was now same style as that of Cagiva.The company used this logo until 1977. The World Superbike victories and titles won over and over would become memorable for Ducati fans, who still associate with this emblem.
At the end of 1997, one year after the takeover by the conglomerate TPG, a new symbol was proposed for Ducati.
The new design was very simple - a heavy sans-serif italicized type - throne still used to this day - flanked by a circular symbol echoing the shape of a stylized "D". Ducati fans were initially dubious, but over time, and through the extensive use of the marque on increasingly desirable motorcycles, the logo has come to mean something.
The logo of the newly established Ducati Corse was introduced in March 1999. After over four decades, the Bolognese marque revived the 'Ducati Meccanica’ badge form.
2000 and beyond
In September 2008, Ducati was purchased by Audi, for all intents and purposes. The new Ducati logo was introduced in 2009. It maintains the typeface, and the shape is similar to the famous Ducati Corse logo from 1999, with the addition of a white stripe that represents a winding road.
The Ducati Corse logo was restyled in 2010, more in line with the 2009 corporate logo.