The new MINI was bigger and bolder, with better quality and higher-end design. We made a brand to match to help launch the new category of the small luxury car.
For a long time, people bought small cars because they were cheap cars. No one was selling a car that was both smaller and better. The original MINI was an icon, but it wasn’t something you could drive in style. With sales down, their business needed to shift. Their goal was to position MINI as an international automobile brand for a more affluent, modern customer base. This was the only way BMW Group could reach their ambitious target of selling 80,000 units of the new MINI in 2002.
To accomplish this, MINI would have to create a new category: compact luxury. MINI had always been extroverted, playful, daring—this was a city car, a brand for an exciting night downtown. The city was our inspiration: black backgrounds or nightscapes lit with colorful frames. Neon, high-contrast, invigorating. The clarity and consistency of the brand sits in its own class. Dealerships look like miniature metropoli. Showrooms and trade shows feel like meeting your friends at an exclusive night club. Communications have the wry sense of humor of a fellow reveler.
The new brand transformed MINI from a quaint English cult vehicle to an international premium hit. It surpassed targets by 80 percent in its first year. 15 years later, the brand is as relevant and fresh as its debut, with a loyal customer base they’ve kept and grown. Manufacturers followed suit to create compact luxury cars of their own. But, MINI was first. MINI is the little car that grew into a big brand.