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The History of the BMW Logo Design Evolution

The History of the BMW Logo Design Evolution

Bayerische Motoren Werk AG, most commonly known as BMW, has marked its position in the automobile market and continued showing consistent growth. 

Formed in March 1916, the automobile manufacturer sold more than 2.1 million cars in 2018, 100 years after it was created. 

The revenue it generated was quite exponential, and it has created employment to more than 100 000 people all over the world. 

It is no doubt to say that this company has made quite a difference with its luxurious car models catering for different tastes by its diverse range.

With every car that is rolled out of their garage, it is incomplete without the black, blue and white logo. 

What is the history behind the famous BMW logo? Let’s find out.

The myth around the BMW logo design

Bmw Logo Design Myth

The symbol of perfectionism, top quality design, and powerful engineering has brought some confusion as the years went by. 

BMW’s logo that is worth close to $100 billion has drawn some to get to conclusions that the logo was designed based on a small passenger aeroplane propeller. 

The logo design has a similar shape to that of a spinning propeller. 

This stemmed from a 1929 ad (above) showing the logo in a rotating aircraft propeller to promote a new aircraft engine BMW was building. “For a long time, BMW made little effort to correct the myth that the BMW badge is a propeller,” the article states, “so sticking to the story that the BMW is a propeller would not be entirely wrong”. – Creative Bloq

Also, the four different segments in the logo look similar to how a propeller looks in broad daylight due to the reflection of the sun. 

Believing that BMW’s logo is inspired by an aircraft propeller, was also deepened by the fact that the Bavarian Luftwaffe used planes that were blue and white during World War I.

Michelle Parnell, who is the history and science writing specialist for the best assignment writing service and also for Topresume mentions that there’s another cause for this theory. 

She says BMW is believed to have some heritage in manufacturing aircraft engines and built engines during World War I. 

The company corroborated the theory that BMW’s logo is from a spinning propeller at some time in its company’s journal in 1942. 

The company mentioned that the logo was derived from the first 320 bhp aircraft engine that was manufactured by BMW. 

The statement further mentioned that when the engine was being tested, an engineer admired the reflection made by the clear blue sky on the propeller. 

According to that insert in the journal, the engineer then envisioned the logo with the BMW letters on it and precisely with the division colours it has today. 

Later on, though a BMW spokesperson didn’t agree with this theory and stated the reasons why he doesn’t agree with it. 

Despite an image that was portrayed before World War I in commercials, the spokesperson denied the truth of this theory. 

The first reason being, was that the logo was already designed before the testing of the engine mentioned. 

It couldn’t have been possible to design the logo before envisioning it on that engine testing. 

Also, the spokesperson mentioned that BMW didn’t manufacture the propeller.

Just like that, the spinning propeller theory was discredited as a bogus claim that was made by the company to explain the logo logically. 

It left people wondering how the logo of BMW was conceptualised up until its implementation.

What inspired the BMW logo you see today?

Bmw Logo Design

BMW’s logo that has four quarter divisions with equally white and blue spaces is the glorious BMW logo that tops the hood of all cars manufactured by the company. 

The logo is quite significant and superior on its own because some chase the logo and don’t care about what is under the hood. 

As it has been determined, the logo wasn’t inspired by a spinning propeller has often baffled people about its origin. 

The logo primarily has two sources of inspiration, and that is the logo of Rapp and the flag of the capital this company was manufactured in. 

How did these two factors influence the design of this powerful and famous logo?

Rapp Logo Design

Rapp Motoren Werke Munchen, an automobile company that grew into BMW, was also a German company that influenced the blue and white logo. 

BMW emerged from the renaming of the aircraft engine manufacturer Rapp Motorenwerke, located in Munich, the capital of the State of Bavaria in southern Germany. (

Although Rapp didn’t affect the decision of the colours used in the BMW logo, it has however affected a large part of it, the shape of it. 

Not only did it affect the shape of the logo, but it also impacted the layout of it. 

First of all, Rapp’s logo had a circular shape, with a thick border surrounding the symbol. 

The layout of the wording and where the symbol would be was also influenced by Rapp’s logo greatly. 

The words on the BMW logo are written the same way as that of the Rapp logo. 

The words on both of the logos are written to form a sort of semi-circle within the thick border.

Related:  Why Colour Semiotics Are Vital To Branding

Although Rapp’s logo was black and white because coloured images weren’t popular back when it was designed, it still inspired BMW’s logo. 

The symbol of the black horse was substituted by the iconic blue and white and colours on the BMW logo. 

When the logos are side-by-side, you can see the similarity between the two logos. 

Despite Rapp being consummated by BMW, it still bore great results as we see on the symbolic logo seen nowadays of BMW. 

Since Rapp’s logo was black and white, where did BMW find its colours?

Bavaria flag

Bavaria Flag

BMW is developed in Germany in the country’s state called Bavaria that accommodates the capital city, Munich, to be more specific. 

Bavaria’s flag is quite bright and fairly colourful, with blue and white diamonds spread across it.

Some may say it’s a coincidence that BMW is developed in Bavaria, and there is a relation between the logo and the flag. 

However, the logo is a good representation of the company’s origin and is quite patriotic to a certain extent. 

This led the BMW marketers to come up with a solution of ‘incorrectly configuring the colour elements in the BMW logo from a heraldic perspective', while also keeping its relationship with Bavaria evident. – Business Insider

The quartered divisions represented the blue and white diamonds on the logo with the same logo. 

Where the quarters intersect in the logo may also be representing the pointy corners of the diamonds on the flag.

Coincidence or not, the logo still has the same colours as Bavaria’s flag, which makes numbers of people believe that the inspiration of the BMW logo was drawn there. 

Especially considering that using the national coat of arms or other national symbols was prohibited, this was the only way patriotism could be manifested. 

The designers of the logo then came up with the solution of featuring the colours from the flag in the logo. 

Bmw Logo Design History

The logo of this large automobile manufacturing company has some history and represents giant decision-making steps. 

For example, the decision of Rapp growing into BMW influenced the logo immensely. 

The logo also represents the country’s state that houses the capital city, hence adding some local flavour to it. 

Both these factors were fused to come up with this unique logo we see today. 

It is straightforward but very well thought of and planned meticulously to stand out without losing its modesty. 

The logo still has had some face lifting over the years, and a few slight changes have been made, what are those changes?

Evolution of the logo until today   

BMW’s logo has not changed much over the years, but a few minor adjustments have been made as the company continued to grow. 

The logo that is informally called the roundel has changed colours of the wording and thin borders that surround the thicker border with the letters in between. 

When it was first designed within the company, it was somewhat a rough sketch. 

However, considering that there were not many tools back then, the company did a great job. 

Original Bmw Logo Design

The spacing between the BMW letters was sparsely written at the top of the logo in a light gold colour.

As time went on, in 1923 the logo was fine-tuned, and the wording started being more tightly packed and bolder. 

Having said that, a revision was made to the original BMW logo design in 1933, the year when the logo was submitted to the German Register of Trade Marks. – Top Speed

The thin borders also became bolder, and the gold became more vibrant. 

In 1936 the logo changed the colour of the wording and started using white letters and the blue became a little bit paler than previous versions.

Bmw Logo 1936

The thin borders also got minimised, and one of them got omitted, leaving only the outer edge.

After a couple of decades in the ’70s to the ’80s, the logo took a dramatic twist, adding more colours but leaving the original design intact. 

Navy, red and blue were included as semi-circles around the logo on all sides of it but dominantly on the right side.

Bmw Logo 1970

BMW later on, removed that extra flare and returned to its original design but now making it more digital and 3D. 

Using shadows and other design effects, the logo looks life-like and more similar to what you would see outside of a dealership in 3D signage.

New Bmw Logo Design Evolution

This new logo featured the standard BMW roundel in the middle with a number of half-rings circling around it. The effect makes the roundel seem to pop out and also visually separates each quarter of the inner circle. – Top Speed

The automaker follows other brands, such as Volkswagen, that have gone to a flatter look for digital media reasons. “BMW is becoming a relationship brand. – Auto News

The bottom line

The company developed the “roundel”, and it has caught on to most people due to its distinctness. 

The logo also hasn’t changed much from the first time it was designed and has become the centrepiece for the BMW brand. 

Although there were misconceptions about this logo, it is still one of the best and symbolises a robust company that lives up to its reputation.

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