Who designed the six-legged dog, which means energy in Italy and in the world? The truth as to who invented it was not known officially until thirty years later. Luigi Broggini, in fact, never admitted authorship, and certainty about his being the father of the symbol only came after his death (1983), through the testimony of his son as reported by the journalist Dante Ferrari. Luigi Broggini’s wish that his name should not be coupled with the winning drawing does not enable us to have an official definition of the real meaning of his “six-legged dog”. After the work had been attributed to the artist, there was talk about his having been influenced by the legends of the Niebelungen, by analogy with the themes of his formal research. The official interpretation, given by Eni’s press office in the 1950’s, explains the six legs of the imaginary animal as the sum of an automobile’s four wheels and the driver’s two legs. A sort of modern centaur, and also almost an assurance that this means of locomotion becomes the fastest possible through the symbiosis between automobile and driver.
An interesting parallel can be made out also in African mythology, in which animals with more than the normal number of legs appear precisely to signify uncommon strength. In Tanzania and Kenya you can sometimes see lions and leopards with six legs among the carved wooden statuettes of Makonde art.
In Nigeria , too, in the Benin bronzes, there are examples of animals represented with more than the ordinary number of legs, giving the idea of supernatural power.
The need for a new symbol able to make the Italian energy company easily and immediately recognized in every part of the world was the reason for the competition of 1952.
The competition, advertised for two road placards intended for Supercortemaggiore and Agipgas products, for two trademarks and for the colouring of a gasoline pump, was open to all Italians and offered total prizes of 10 million lire (equal to 5164.57 euro). The members of the Jury were foremost personages in the world of art and communication, and this emphasizes the importance attached by Eni to the competition. The competition was a resounding success.
Suffice it to think that more than 4,000 sketches were submitted and that it took 14 meetings of the jury to choose the winner. Then at the conclusive session in September 1952, at Merano, the “Six-Legged Dog” was unanimously designated, but an extremely long, almost legendary attribution began as to its author.
The sketch that won the competition had been submitted by Giuseppe Guzzi, who in reality was not the author of it, but its “finisher”.
And this fact, by no means a secondary one, was at once made known. Various legends started up. It was rumoured that it was by a well-known artist who however did not wish his name to appear. Many names were mentioned, among them that of the famous Leo Longanesi, a leading promoter of artistic and cultural life in those years. Only after many years, and after his death, did it become known with certainty that the author of the winning sketch was the sculptor Luigi Broggini, one of the main figures on the scene of Italian figurative arts in the decades straddling the second world war.
The Trademark in 1998
Eni’s transformation, at the beginning of the 90’s, from being the National Hydrocarbons Agency into a joint-stock company made a fresh restyling necessary, to renew the image of the company’s trademark, since entering the stock exchange it had to express a profoundly changed corporate organization.
Bob Noorda, the famous dutch designer, was called in 1972 to create a trademark properly so termed and to develop a coordinated Group image. He was called in again so as to rethink once more the modern Eni Group’s corporate image. The solution presented was a new graphic project based on simple essential elements, but of considerable impact and appeal, able to bring together the various sectors of the image and to confirm the value of the Group being a single united one.
The dog “emerges” from the “palina” (an element with rounded corners, yellow with a black border, connected too closely with the gas stations) and “enters” a yellow square-shaped area together with the Eni logo.
The yellow square is divided into two parts by a thin horizontal red line that separates the two elements.
The new economy of space imposed a further aesthetic measure on the dog which was imperceptibly “shortened” to become equal in length to the Eni logo consisting of edged institutional characters. “
This time things went differently: - Noorda says - it was really much simpler to shorten the dog with the computer instead of using scissors like all those years ago!”.
This sign will be Eni’s new trademark and, with the addition of the word “Group”, will become the prefix of the logo of all the Group companies, graphically confirming the new corporate pattern.
The publicity image is often very short-lived: nothing ages faster than the image, worn out by all the looks it has to attract. It is particularly difficult to invent images that manage to outlive the promotional campaign which they illustrate. “When I design a trademark – he explains - I do so bearing in mind the cultural aspect, not just the commercial one, of a company. And I try to think of an image that can last, without appearing at once outdated and old”.
Bob Noorda has created more than 120 company trademarks, all of them very handsome and incredibly topical.