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Delfino Cars started because of an unpaid invoice. Allard Marx, a Dutchman born in Italy, raised and resident in Britain, decided to turn a set-back into an opportunity.
His international corporate branding research and development firm INCIDE undertook a project in a Far Eastern country he is reluctant to identify. Introduced to the client by a government agency, his firm did research, strategy, business consulting and brand name and identity work for what was supposed to become a new nationally developed sports car company.
The car and company were launched amid much fanfare, national press and with that country’s Prime Minister test-driving the car on national prime-time television.
Not all was what it seemed however, the car had not been developed by nationals but ‘imported’ as a ready but relatively little-known package, the company actually had no production permits from the same government that had endorsed it and, worst of all, there was no finance in place.
Allard’s consternation was partially assuaged because at least he was not alone to have been misled. The highly respected Prime Minister had been too; as had a number of other high profile people and suppliers.
It had always been a speculative project (INCIDE usually asks for a good proportion of fees in advance) and it had ended in wasted time all around and considerable embarassment.
INCIDE was left with some market insights and the Delfino name and symbol, which by virtue of copyright provisions had remained the property of the company. Not one penny had been received from the client to pay for them.
Normally in such cases it would end there. However, the Delfino brand identity took on a life of its own, completely independently of that distant series of events. It leapt up demanding to stay noticed and had fuelled the imagination of those close to it.