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How Ferrari became one of the world’s most powerful brands

From the Prancing Horse to Enzo Ferrari's passion, this is how the brand put the super in supercar

In 1947, the first Ferrari emerged from the brand’s Italian factory. On Via Acetone Inferiore in Maranello, the 125 S rolled off the production line, and it embodied the passion and determination of Enzo Ferrari, the company’s founder.

Ferrari, who was born in Modena in 1898, and died in 1988, devoted his entire life to designing and building the most beautiful sports cars in the world and delivering them to the road and the track Beginning his career with Alfa Romeo, the Italian soon branched out to create his own company – and made supercar history in the process.

So, when we ask ‘How did Ferrari become one of the world’s most powerful brands?’ the answer seems simple. Surely it was the dedication and enthusiasm of Enzo Ferrari? But there is more to the story of these supercars than one man and, from the iconic logo to being backed by Fiat, these are the reasons Ferrari has always stayed on top.

In the world of motoring, there is no logo so iconic as Ferrari’s Prancing Horse. Audi’s 4 rings come close, as does Mercedes’ three-pronged star, but the equine emblem of Italy’s foremost supercar manufacturer is in a league of its own. And this level of brand recognition is the first reason that Ferrari is one of the world’s most powerful brands.

Enzo Ferrari told the story of this logo just once. “The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca,” said the automaker, “a heroic airman of the first world war. In 1923, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck’. The horse was, and still is, black, and I added the canary yellow background which is the colour of Modena.”

Now a trademark of Ferrari, the horse is synonymous with power and grace – and is said to bring luck to anyone who’s vehicle bears the emblem.

Ferrari don’t just turn heads on the road; they also turn heads on the track. Scuderia Ferrari are the oldest surviving and one of the most successful Formula One teams in history, having competed in every world championship since the 1950 season, and wining a total of 228 races across the last half-century.

This success has contributed to the brand’s wider prosperity in a number of ways. Not only do consistent race wins satisfy consumers that Ferraris are mechanically sound and reliable investments, but the association with racers from Niki Lauda to Michael Schumacher help to elevate the Prancing Horse to a whole new level of both cool and competence.

Thanks to the backing of fellow Italian automaker Fiat, in 1969 Ferrari suddenly saw a huge increase in available investment funds and work started on a factory extension – meaning that more cars would be produced, Ferraris would become more ubiquitous and the brand would become stronger as a result.

From Magnum PI to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferraris have graced screens both small and silver since the brand’s inception. And there is no putting a price on the brand boost you get when one of the biggest stars of cinema is seen driving your car. From Christian Bale to Leonardo DiCaprio, the number of famous Ferrari drivers who have been seen behind the wheel of these supercars has heightened the brand’s cache remarkably.

“My motors have a soul,” said Enzo Ferrari famously. And is he wrong? Although he died at the age of 90 in 1988, Ferrari’s Ferraris continue to be imbued with the same passion and soul that they always were, and customers both old and new are said to appreciate and cherish the ‘spirit’ of these supercars. And if there’s a marketing tool to top all others, it’s a feeling – something you can’t put your finger on, but has managed to make your brand among the most powerful in the world.

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