Enzo Ferrari's art of branding

Ferrari's first ever brochure shows how keen Enzo' eye was

Before the phrase had even been invented, the importance of the ‘brand’ was already crystal clear in the mind of Enzo Ferrari, as early as 1946. As much is demonstrated by examining a quite extraordinary document: the very first Ferrari brochure. Simply entitled ‘Programma Di Fabbricazioni 1946-47’ – ‘Manufacturing Programme 1946-47’ – it laid out not only the details of the first ever Ferrari model, the 125, but also the very heart of what made Ferrari special.


Remarkably, the values it established remain as true today as at the moment of the company’s birth. In many ways, the brochure is an exercise in simplicity: a yellowish cover, almost like parchment; and inside, four pages of information about the new Ferrari, all in Italian. The very first printing didn’t even have a picture of the new car, for the simple reason that the car had not yet been built!

Yet the brochure’s simplicity belies the great sophistication that clearly lay behind it. The masterful gaze of Enzo Ferrari can be seen in every detail. Look at the image of the Prancing Horse on the cover, realised in graphically adventurous black dots against a plain background. It’s simple but striking; and the basic form of the Prancing Horse hasn’t changed to this day. The choice of red cover lettering is equally bold, equally simple, equally effective. Open the cover and inside the ‘Cavallino’ image is reproduced alongside the first reference to the brand – two wonderfully produced words: ‘Ferrari’ and ‘Automobili’.


The centrefold then introduces a letter signed by Enzo himself. Here's what Ferrari said: “By realizing this limited group of small sports cars, which we will call 125 Sport, Competition and Grand Prix, we have intended to build a new car resulting from our studies and previous constructions.

Our twenty-year racing experience, the detailed knowledge of the many needs that arise from the use of the machine driven or intended for sports competitions, have guided us in making the 125 types. These machines offer you, with very special features that cannot be found in series vehicles, the certain possibility of satisfying the differing degrees of your sporting passion. The extreme simplicity of the solutions adopted, lightning acceleration, speed, braking, very low weight, perfect stability, low consumption, are the synthesis of the 125. Before making your plans for future sporting activities, before buying a car for your needs, please remember the Scuderia Ferrari and write to us. Thank you”


Here’s another special detail: every time the model number ‘125’ is printed, it’s in large, red numerals that leap off the page. And as soon as Ferrari built the first example of the 125, photographs were taken of the car and a sepia print was duly inserted into the catalogue inside the front cover. To commemorate the Ferrari brand's 45th anniversary in 1992, the original brochure was lovingly reprinted. It’s definitely worth hunting down a copy, since 1946-47 originals are extremely rare and avidly sought after by collectors. After all, it is a work of art in its own right.