With an iconic company mascot and emblem that was named the 20th century’s Logo of the Century, Michelin is a brand that is famed both for its tyres and for its guides. Known colloquially as the Michelin Man, the mascot Bibendum was modelled after a stack of tyres.
In 1889, brothers Édouard and André Michelin from Clermont-Ferrand were inspired to create a pneumatic tyre that, unlike its predecessors, did not need to be glued to the rim. They filed their patent in 1891 and that very year a bike equipped with their tyres was ridden to victory by Charles Terront in the long-distance Paris-Brest-Paris cycling race. Following on from that first success, Michelin attained numerous milestones, developing the first rubber tyres for both horse-drawn carriages and cars, followed later by the first train with rubber tyres.
To promote car travel and the use of rubber tyres, which would encourage business, Michelin produced numerous roadmaps and two travel guide series, both offering practical information, with the Red Guide awarding Michelin stars to restaurants for their cooking and the Green Guide listing tourist attractions.
Another Michelin marketing initiative saw the production of enamel road signs at the entry and exit of villages asking motorists to slow down and thanking them for visiting, branded with the company name.
The company now produces approximately 170 million tyres per year and employs almost 124,000 people. Its 120 or so inspectors visit restaurants anonymously, and Michelin continues to be a brand that is recognised for its quality.
Lead photo credit : Aventure Michelin