The best logos are instantly recognisable. But how have today’s biggest car brands gone about creating their own iconic designs?
Let’s look back at how some of the most well-known car emblems have evolved over time.
The famous Aston Martin ‘wings’ were first introduced in 1927 after a period of financial uncertainty for the company and so marked a kind of new beginning for this well-respected brand.
A variety of adjustments have been made throughout the decades – according to the Aston Martin website, they aim to incorporate “contemporary cues from each era” in each redesign.
There’s now been a total of nine versions of the ‘wings’, with the current evolution introduced in 2003 to coincide with the launch of Aston Martin’s new global headquarters in Gaydon.
Though the BMW logo has changed several times over the years, the blue and white quartered circle has been carried through every version.
Depending on who you speak to, this part of the design is either supposed to represent propeller blades spinning against a clear blue sky or echo the colours of the Bavarian flag as a nod to the fact that the brand was born there.
Side note: Did you know that BMW stands for ‘Bavarian Motor Works’?
The three-pronged star that’s become synonymous with Mercedes-Benz was first introduced in 1909 and is designed to represents the brand’s domination of the land, sea and air.
The silver colour was chosen to reflect the close connection the brand has with racing, which began with the Grand Prix at Nürburgring in 1934 – legend has it that, when one of their cars exceeded the eligible weight in the pre-race checks, the Mercedes-Benz team spent the night polishing off the white paint, stripping it back to its raw silver colour to make it lighter.
Of all the logos in our list, it’s perhaps the Jaguar badge that’s changed the least – perhaps because when you’ve created a look this memorable, why would you want to change a thing?
Given that the first VW, the Beetle, was created under Hitler’s guidance, it’s no real surprise that the first version of the Volkswagen logo echoes the Nazi flag.
The brand moved on swiftly after the war ended, adjusting the emblem to remove the prongs and creating a circular design that’s not entirely dissimilar to the logo they still use today.
Ford first introduced their iconic oval design in 1907, and – aside from the ‘winged triangle’ logo they toyed with in 1912 – it’s remained the linchpin of their brand throughout their long history.
Nissan inherited their original emblem – supposed to represent the sun – from Datsun. It wasn’t until 1988 that they made changes to the original 1932 design, stripping out the colour and modernising the logo for a sleeker look.
The circle with the arrow pointing up that makes up the main of today’s Volvo logo is an adaptation of the ancient chemical symbol for iron, while the distinctive font is based on the Volta typeface.
For years, many believed that Chevrolet’s co-founder Billy Durant came up with the idea for its famous bowtie emblem when he saw the design on wallpaper in a Paris hotel in 1913.
In an interview conducted in the sixties, his widow disputed the story, claiming instead that her husband took the visual cue from an illustrated Virginia newspaper in 1912.
Recent evidence suggests, though, that the inspiration was an ad for Coalettes brand coal printed in a publication called The Constitution in 1911.
The three-pronged Mitsubishi logo, largely unchanged since the company was first established in 1921, is supposed to represent the three-leaf crest of the Tosa Clan, president Iwasaki Yataro’s first employer, combined with the three stacked rhombuses (or rhombi, if you prefer!) of the Iwasaki family crest.