YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co. has gone buttoned-down with a new steel-blue logo that spells out -- literally -- the distinction between Nissan the company and Nissan the brand.
The new insignia reads NISSAN MOTOR COMPANY and is accented with a blue-gray color scheme. Underneath are the logos for the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands.
For years, the corporate emblem had been a red "NISSAN," in a bold, futuristically stylized font with two sassy S's.
The problem: How to tell when the logo stood for corporate messaging or brand messaging about its mass-market marque?
"This is a significant move," said Simon Sproule, corporate vice president for global marketing communications. "We now don't have the risk of people not knowing if we are talking about Nissan the company or Nissan the brand."
The makeover is part of Nissan's stepped-up obsession with differentiating its mass-market Nissan brand from its luxury Infiniti line and its entry-level, emerging-market offering Datsun. The first Datsun debuts in July in India.
Infiniti, for instance, registered late last year as a separate corporation, Infiniti Motor Co.
Japan's second-biggest automaker introduced the new look today as the backdrop for CEO Carlos Ghosn at the company's full-year earnings announcement. Ghosn's blue-gray PowerPoint presentation was a departure from Nissan's traditional ruby red slides.
Sproule said the change has been in the works for a year.
Executives opted for gray as a way to separate it from Nissan's red, Infiniti's purple and the blue badge of upcoming Datsun.
Infiniti is the only logo unaccompanied by script. That aims, Sproule said, to give the emblem automatic visual recognition.
The staid corporate logo will be used in companywide releases, earnings events and shareholder meetings, but not at auto shows. Nissan's corporate Web site has made the switch.