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What is the meaning and history of famous automobile brand logos?

What is the meaning and history of famous automobile brand logos?

Throughout automotive history, an important distinguishing element of a car has been its logo, which has been identified with a particular automobile brand. The first car badges appeared almost immediately with the first "self-propelled strollers".

Practically every one of us, seeing four crossed rings, would understand that this is an Audi, and upon seeing a rhombus, would say that this is a Renault. But do we often ponder what manufacturers actually wanted to tell us with this logo? I offer you transcripts of the logos of the most famous car manufacturers.


Company motto: Vorsprung durch Technik - "Progress through Technology"

Quite often, I have heard the rumor that Audi rings are somehow connected to the cylinders of the car engine. But in reality it is not so. The reality is that on June 29, 1932, four automobile companies merged: Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer, which means Auto Union AG was born. The logo of the union was four linked rings, each of which included the logo of one of the companies. But the logo was too crowded and, as a result, only four rings were left. Interestingly, on the modern logo, the four rings seem to be fused from one piece, rather than linked in a chain. Audi means "listen!" in Latin.


BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke (Bavarian Motor Works). From 1913 until the end of World War I, the factory produced airplanes. After the end of the war, Germany was forbidden to do so, and the company was forced to retrain to motorized bicycles, motorcycles, and cars. But the BMW logo has remained unchanged for almost a century. In the '70s and '80s, the logo was slightly changed: the rim was painted in different colors. Now, the rim is more like a bearing with three chambers, half of each chamber is white and the other half is either dark blue, blue or pale red.

The myth of the logo, created by savvy German marketers, fooled several generations by associating the white and blue circle with aviation. "A German advertising agency in the 1920s created an advertisement that showed a BMW circle opposite a rotating airplane propeller and thereby reflected the company's origins as a manufacturer of aircraft engines. And then it became a myth," said Dave Buchko, a spokesman for BMW North America. And while BMW did make aircraft engines, the white and blue logo represents the colors of the Bavarian flag, not the propeller and the sky.


Another logo misconception. Almost everyone I know thinks the Chevrolet logo is a stylized version of the Swiss flag’s cross. And that could be true: the company founder Louis Chevrolet was indeed born in Switzerland. But nevertheless, it is not a cross at all, but... a bow tie! For the founder of the company, a bow tie meant a combination of optimism, style and unconventional thinking.


Company slogan: Technologie Créative - "Creative Technology".

Here, all my respondents were unanimous. When asked "What is the Citroën logo?", they all said "I don't know". But in fact, it is a double chevron. In case you have forgotten, a chevron is a V-shaped sign used in heraldry, uniforms and architecture. And the image of the chevron for the logo of the company, founded by André Citroën, was inspired by the Polish cogs which were produced in the factory he visited in 1919. It is quite ingenious, isn't it?


The history of Mazda begins in 1920. At the time, it was called the Tokyo Cork Factory, and produced cork for the needs of World War I. In 1927, it began producing cars, and after World War II, the company became known as Mazda. In 1936, a logo was designed in the shape of the letter "M", made up of wavy lines, this logo was based on the Hiroshima logo. In 1962, the logo was changed: it was still based on the Latin letter "M", but no longer in a horizontal composition, but in a vertical one. In 1991, the logo was developed and is now present in a heavily modified form. According to the creators, this emblem represents wings, the sun and the circle of light. The modern Mazda logo is called an "owl", with the stylized "M" looking like stretched wings - or like an owl's head - but some people call this emblem a "tulip" because it looks like a flower bud.


The star with three rays appeared on the logo from a postcard drawn by Daimler Gottlieb, one of the founders of the company. The three rays denoted the three elements - earth, air and water - for which it was planned to produce vehicles. Later, the star with three rays was enclosed in a round rim with "Benz" written on it. Since its development, the logo has not undergone significant changes, except for some variations in color.


Company motto: Wir leben Autos - "We live by cars".

There was no issue with this logo: everyone recognized the lightning. And the lightning means speed. In 1902, at the Hamburg Motor Show, the company presented a car 10/12PS with a maximum speed of 45km/h - quite a big speed for that time.


Company slogan: We make cars.

The diamond-shaped logo appeared in 1925 and was finalized in 1927. This last form was preserved to this day, with only minor changes. The color scheme is worth mentioning: the color of Renault is yellow, quite a rare color for an automobile brand.

At first glance, it seems that the Renault logo has a simple rhombus. But, if you look closely, you will understand that it is in fact an "impossible figure". That is a figure which seems to be a projection of an ordinary three-dimensional object at first sight, but on closer examination, an illusion of impossibility of existence is created. Although, in reality, such a figure may indeed exist. Perhaps this should mean the company's desire to implement even the most ambitious ideas.


The official interpretation of the symbolism of the logo is as follows:

A large circle (ring) - the universality of production, product perfection, the earthly world.

The tip of a bird's wing (wing) - technical progress, the scope of the program of production and sale of products around the world.

Arrow - progressive production methods, high productivity.

Circle (eye) - precision production, breadth of vision.

Black - centuries-old traditions.

Green - environmentally friendly production, environmental protection, reuse of used materials (recycling).


The logo of this automobile brand exactly reflects its name: "Subaru", the name of the star cluster Pleiades (in the constellation of Taurus) in Japanese. Six stars from this cluster are visible to the naked eye.


The Ford logo, despite the fact that car factory logos rarely ever undergo significant changes, has not always been the one we know.

At the very beginning of the famous car company's history, the logo was black and white, rather pretentious and in trinkets. It was designed by an assistant engineer at the plant. The logo exists to this day, but as archive. It is barely ever used and was changed a little - the trinkets were removed.

The blue oval appeared in 1928. Since 1976, it began to be fixed to all cars coming off the Ford assembly line, without exception, and the blue oval got a more modern look for the 100th anniversary of Ford Motors in 2003.


The Cadillac coat of arms is that of the French military commander and explorer, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded the city of Detroit in 1701. Over the years, it has been simplified and has been given a more impetuous look, but the basic style remains the same. "It's so special that you never want to change it," says Anne Marie Webb, design manager for GM's Global Brand Identity.



The company was founded in 1899. Fiat is short for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. In addition, this acronym can be translated from Latin as an independent word, often used in church circles, meaning "let there be". The company logo is very simple and all its changes can be attributed to the change of design. It became round, then acquired a shield-shaped, modern logo combining both of these forms. Curiously, for most of its history, the logo was a combination of metallic (white) and blue. It seems that shades of blue are the most common color in the auto industry, think of BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen. The creator of the original font and design is said to have been inspired by a neon factory sign seen at night.


The first "people's car" was created in Germany on behalf of Hitler in 1938. The Volkswagen logo was designed by a Porsche employee, Franz Xavier Reimspiss, and chosen after an open competition. The letters "W" and "V" combined in a monogram marked the plant's products throughout its history. After the factory came under British ownership, the logo was inverted and, later, the background became blue instead of black.


Like BMW, Saab originally made airplanes and stopped after World War II. In 1937, the company was called Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget ("Swedish Airplane Manufacturing Company"), hence the world-famous acronym.

The company logo is based on the image of a griffin, a mythical animal with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle, and this animal was on the logo of Vabis-Scania, the truck manufacturer that merged with Saab. The griffin is the heraldic sign of the province of Scania, and has been on the Scania logo for 111 years.


The beginning of Peugeot was in 1812. For several decades the company produced steel products, then bicycles, and the first car came out of the assembly line in 1889. The Peugeot logo comes from a heraldic mark and was developed for Peugeot by the jeweler and engraver Justin Blazer, based on the flag of the province where the Peugeot factory was originally located. In different periods, the lion was depicted either completely or just with the head. In 1927, the lion was turned to the right, which meant a break with the rules of heraldry, and acquired the features of a drawing of a living lion, and not a heraldic symbol. But later, the logo returned to the armorial style. In 1950, the lion became clearly aggressive - he stood on his haunches, his mouth opened. The logo remains in this form to this day. Interestingly, Peugeot was unoriginal in the color scheme, it is white and blue, as for Volkswagen, BMW, Ford, and Fiat. It really seems to be the most popular color combination for car logos.

And not too long ago, French automakers stripped their lion of its tongue.

Designers simplified its drawing, gave the emblem dynamism, a sense of movement, and combined two textures of material in the symbol: matte and shiny. The updated lion, which is the new logo of the Peugeot brand, has become three-dimensional.


The Mitsubishi logo is a merger of the family crest of the Iwasaki family (three rhombuses) and the Tosa clan (three oak leaves growing from the same point). Yataro Iwasaki came from a family that sold its nobility, and after the Meiji Restoration, he inherited the Tosa clan's ship business. Two generations later, Kayota Iwasaki repurposed the business and created Mitsubishi Motors.

The name means "three diamonds" or "three rhombuses". The word "hishi" (when joined, the first syllable is voiced according to the rules of Japanese phonetics and "hi" turns into "bi") means "chestnut”. It is used to refer to a diamond shape. Since its inception, the logo has remained virtually unchanged.


Luck and an easy-to-pronounce name played a big role in the creation of the Toyota brand in 1936. The book "Toyota: A History of the First 50 Years" tells the story of how the company's founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, launched a contest to propose a new 

Toyoda logo. There were more than 20,000 entries. The winning entry consisted of katakana letters in a design that conveyed a sense of speed... "Toyoda" became "Toyota" because it was more aesthetically pleasing from a design point of view and because the number of strokes needed to write it was eight. And eight is a lucky number that portends ever-increasing prosperity. The typeface has never changed since.


The formation of Nissan is the result of a merger of several large and small automakers, which took place in 1914, and the meaning of the emblem, I think, is intuitively clear to everyone - the name of the brand inscribed in a circle. Except that the circle is not a circle, but the rising sun, which symbolizes sincerity.

The emblem used to look very different: the circle was red and the rectangle with the company’s name was blue, it symbolized the sky. Thus, the emblem expresses the company motto "Sincerity brings success". To see what the emblem looks like now, you can look at the top left corner of their website.

Until June 1st 1934, the company was called Datsun, and only then became Nissan Motor Co. Ltd, although for some time the cars were produced under the brand Datsun.

The word Nissan itself (Nissan) was formed of "Ni", from "Nihon" meaning “Japan”, and "san", from "sangyo" meaning “industry”.


What stories about the creation of car logos do you know?


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