Alfa Romeo’s new Giulia sedan represents a renewed assault on the premium car market, and that calls for a branding makeover.
Revealed in Milan today, the refreshed badge is shown in full colour on the new sedan’s exterior, while the steering wheel gets a special monotone version.
The familiar gold trim that has adorned the iconic Alfa badge for a century is gone, replaced with a new silver finish and a clean new font, but the iconic cross and serpent motif remains.
Those elements haven’t gone unchanged, though, with the once divided devices brought together for the first time, creating a newly streamlined look against a chequered diamond background.
If you’ve never been too clear on what the two elements represent, no, it’s not Saint George meeting his end in the maw of a limbless, wingless dragon.
We could relate to you the story of the Biscione, the Crusades, and a serpent devouring a defeated warrior. We could.
But, instead, here’s the version offered by Alfa Romeo Australia:
The badge was designed in 1910 by Romano Catteneo, and is said to represent the ruling families of Medieval Milan. On the right side is an image of the family crest of the House of Visconti. It is said that early during the 5th century, Milan was plagued by a man-eating serpent.
Legend has it that Ottoni Visconti was responsible for slaying the beast, and this notable deed was incorporated into the family crest in celebration.
The red cross and white background meanwhile recalls the accomplishments of Giovanni Da Rio who may have been the first to scale Jerusalem's walls during the first crusade, and erected a cross there.
This simple image has since become the widely recognised symbol of Milan.
Another version, offered by Automobilismo Storico Alfa Romeo - the brand’s own ‘Documentation Centre’ - goes as follows:
The symbol of one of the most important families in the history of Milan (and Italy), the Visconti family - the family that ruled Milan.
There are a lot of legends about the origins of this heraldic symbol, representing a mythological animal with a human in his mouth (some believe it to be a dragon, but most likely a snake).
During the time of the crusades, Otone Visconti , the founder of Visconti Family and a knight, fought against a noble Saracen knight (nomad from the Syrian Desert that bordered the Roman Empire).
Otone beat the Saracen knight and, following the tradition, took the symbols the Saracen carried on his shield: a snake with a human in his mouth.
At first glance, it looks like the snake is eating the human. Instead, the human is coming out of the snake a "new man," purified and renewed.
Whatever the truth of it, one thing is clear: attention in the year ahead is likely to be focused less on a new badge and more on the success of the Giulia and Alfa Romeo’s coming onslaught of new models.
But they might as well be rocking a fresh new badge while they’re at it.
MORE: NEW ALFA GIULIA REVEALED