Top 10 Best Car Logos for Design Inspiration
The car is today's symbol of mobility. From their ability to get us safely from point A to point B to their status as luxurious transport, cars are one of the ultimate symbols of personal freedom.
With more than 400 models of cars and over 60 major automotive brands worldwide, there's quite a range in how they brand themselves to differentiate. With all those choices for car buyers, it's undeniable that they use their logos to stand out and represent their identity.
While many are household names, others need help to compete with the leading brands and either decide to push a different route or sell in secondary markets to gain new customers. But there is always room for improvement in branding, so we have decided to look at the best car logos today and see what can be learned from them.
There's no better way to express the individuality of a car owner than by their favoured car brand. As a status symbol, your car choice tells a lot about your preferences and lifestyle – think of a 20-year-old beat-up station wagon and compare it to a new Lamborghini – both function in the same way, but choosing between the two depends on many factors.
Let's look at our compiled list of the top 10 car logos on the go today and see what they tell us about the automobile brand they represent.
Top 10 Best Car Logos of All-Time
1 – Mercedes-Benz Logo Design
When the company's founder, Karl Benz, patented the first-ever internal combustion engine in 1886, he was surprised that investors were reluctant to buy into it. Undeterred, he and his wife Bertha pushed to show its reliability, safety and longevity, starting the brand with a focus on the luxury customers willing to pay top prices.
After several years of collaboration, Karl Benz's company merged with a competitor called Daimler-Motoren-Gesselschaft, forming the “Daimler-Benz” maker of Mercedes-Benz vehicles. That same year, they started designing and prototyping cars with an exclusive and elegant aesthetic.
By 1909, two of Daimler's sons were tasked with designing a new logo for the Mercedes-Benz company. They combined a laurel wreath (from the existing Benz & Cie company) with the now-famous three-pointed star and trademarked it by the summer of that year. The three-pointed star symbolises Mercedes-Benz's ambition of universal motorisation on land, sea and air.
Interestingly, they also registered a four-pointed star simultaneously but never used it.
The idea to use a star in the first place came from Gottlieb Daimler, the technical director of the gas engine factory. When he started the job, he had drawn a star above his house on a postcard of the city, telling his wife that one day his factory would go down in history for its success.
As with many car logos, the simplicity of the star logo is its absolute beauty – it oozes elegance which fits the brand mentality perfectly.
2 – Ferrari Logo Design
Arguably the most recognisable and iconic brand in luxury sports cars, the Ferrari logo design or ‘prancing horse' encapsulates everything they stand for.
Enzo Ferrari, the founder, told the story of Ferrari's horse logo just once:
The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca — a heroic airman of the first world war. In 1923, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero's father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me one day, ‘Ferrari, put my son's prancing horse on your cars – It will bring you good luck'. The horse was and still is, black, and I added the canary yellow background, which is the colour of Modena.
The famous Ferrari logo design symbolises a passion for excellence and a dedication to perfection in their work.
It has partnered with several slogans over the decades. Currently, it uses “we are the competition”, typically preceded with phrases such as “You're the fuel…” or “only those who dare, truly live…” in marketing campaigns.
Sitting atop the Ferrari badge is the Italian flag's green, white and red. This is an example of a design element that isn't technically required but is essential for the message it conveys for the car brand logo.
Their logo also represents their brand values, like the desire to excel in every aspect of their business. As a global luxury brand, they believe that no matter the challenges, there are always opportunities for growth and learning new things.
3 – Jaguar Logo Design
There's much more to the Jaguar logo than meets the eye; it's a symbol representing an incredible company.
William Lyons founded Jaguar in 1922, originally named the “Swallow Sidecar Company”, as they focused on making sidecars for motorcycles. That developed into making car body parts and then extended into complete cars when partnered with Standard Motor Company.
During WW2, Jaguar helped the war by building the M-1 Tank and the Sherman, but at the war's end, they returned to luxury cars again. Their first cars were the Mark II and the Mark III, but by 1953 they introduced the XK 150, their first Jaguar sports car.
By the 1970s, Jaguar had sold more than 300,000 cars worldwide, and that was before their famous E-Type series, the first sports car to use a V12 engine.
The Jaguar car logo comprises a jumping Jaguar above the business's name, depicting the speed, power and brilliance of the cars produced by the company. It accurately represents the company's brand identity – the production of one of the world's most stylish, graceful and fastest cars.
This version of the Jaguar symbol appeared for a decade, from 2002 until 2012, when they ‘updated' it with even more of a 3D feel.
The Jaguar logo design doesn't just look cool; it's a strong symbol of speed and performance, very fitting for a brand with such a reputation.
4 – Lamborghini Logo Design
The Lamborghini logo design represents an extreme expression of pure driving passion. Famous for its supercars and high-performance sports cars, Lamborghini was founded in 1963 to compete with rivals Ferrari. They continue to deliver genuine, uncompromising performance to this day.
In 1949, Lamborghini's founder, Ferruccio Lamborghini, worked in agricultural manufacturing, primarily tractors, engines and heaters. As a successful businessman, he wanted to work with Ferrari on engineering' solutions' for Enzo's supercars, but the Ferrari founder turned down the offer.
Disappointed, Ferruccio hired a team of young engineers and started work on cars to compete with the big Italian car brand.
We can draw a similarity between the charging bull in the Lamborghini logo and the prancing horse of the Ferrari badge. They both contain aggressive, powerful animals caught in a pose, presented in tones of yellow/gold on black. Is this a nod to the rivalry between the two owners?
Or does it show that both appreciate the symbolism these animals bring, which can be associated with the brand's message?
5 – Porsche Logo Design
One of the ‘busier' car logos in the market, the Porsche logo pulls on several themes representing the brand's core values of quality, performance and beauty.
At the centre of the Porsche emblem lies a horse from the Stuttgart coat of arms, alongside the city name to stay true to its roots. Surrounded by the red and black state colours, the antlers are taken from the crest of Württemberg-Hohenzollern.
The original creator of the Porsche logo design needs to be clarified – some believe it was Ferdinand Porsche's son, Ferry. Still, Germans claim that Franz Xaver Reimpiess, an engineer, designed the crest.
6 – Maserati Logo Design
Achille Castiglioni designed the Maserati logo in 1920, an elegant, simple mark representing their cars' luxury and refinement. They got the idea to use Neptune's trident from the Marquis Diego de Sterlich, a family friend, and a symbol of Bologna, where it was founded.
In the early 1920s, Italy was one of the major automobile manufacturers in the world, and Maserati vehicles were among the most exclusive and desirable cars at the time.
Today, many products, from watches to glasses and clothing, bear the Maserati logo design as they expand across the luxury markets.
7 – Volkswagen Logo Design
Volkswagen is the second largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and has three of the top ten best-selling cars of all time (the V.W. Golf, Beetle and Passat, if you're interested).
Their name means “people's car” in German, and its current slogan is “Das Auto” (“The Car”).
If you spend just a second looking at the Volkswagen logo, you will notice the prominent “V” and “W” placed atop each other. The beauty comes in how they follow the form, almost connecting to become two larger, interconnected “V's”.
If that dividing line splitting the two letters were not there, it would be an entirely different image, potentially confusing or abstract.
Strangely, their car logos weren't designed by a graphic designer. The Volkswagen emblem was created by Franz Reimspiess, who perfected the Beetle engine in the 1930s. It was an office competition, with the prize being 50 Deutschmarks – an early crowdsourcing contest that proved fruitful!
8 – Alfa Romeo Logo Design
It's one of the oldest car logos in the world and has been seen on cars for over a century.
It all began in 1865 when Giuseppe Brera founded “A.L.F.A.” or Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili in Milan. That same year, he brought a car over from France and commissioned the artist Alphonse Girardo to design a logo to put on it.
But it took until 1891 before they could start using the new logo on their vehicles, and by then, they had been using it on cars and bikes produced by the French company Panhard.
Since its creation, the Alfa Romeo logo has had several recurring themes:
- The badge is split into two halves – the cross on the left represents the medieval Milanese soldiers during the crusades, and the serpent on the right has been associated with the Visconti family of the 11th century.
- The man is supposedly a victim of the serpent, likely to be a Saracen or Moor.
- The crown appeared in 1925 when Alfa Romeo won the first Automobile World Championship.
9 – Ford Logo Design
The Ford logo has been around for over 100 years, first appearing on the Model T, introduced in 1908. Since then, the Ford logo has been updated and refined to maintain its iconic look.
In 1912, Henry Ford's signature influenced the writing of “Ford”, surrounded by an oval blue crest. Admittedly, this timelessness plays a large part in why I like the Ford cars logo – its ability to stay consistent over generations.
In 1927, the chevron design was modified and replaced by the current Ford logo. The new design was meant to represent the carmaker's promise to build cars that would last and be driven with confidence.
The current version is the same logo design as in the 1960s, albeit with a subtle fresh coat of paint. Easily and instantly recognisable, the Ford badge marks the vehicle as a reliable and all-American mentality.
As a brand, Ford has done a great job of maintaining its visual identity through the years. The logo represents the values and strengths of the company, such as reliability, durability, and innovation.
10 – Bentley Logo Design
Another British classic car manufacturer, Bentley, has become synonymous with opulence, celebrity lifestyles and ultimate luxury. Based in England, the Bentley Motors car name and logo were founded in 1919 by W. O. Bentley but acquired by Rolls-Royce in the 1930s.
Conceptually, the Bentley car logo design is relatively straightforward, the wings and tail feathers of a bird with a capital ‘B' in the middle. As such, it's remained unchanged over the decades, bar a few visual updates to the shape and layout.
The idea of wings in the logo design can be seen to suggest speed and grace, the way a bird flies smoothly at speed throughout the air. Keeping the logo in a limited colour palette of black, white and silver shows sophistication in monotone, with elegance in silver.
The best car logos can be an excellent source of inspiration in any branding exercise, as they are typically diverse in their execution. You will notice common trends among them, naturally keeping core symbolism simple, often literal.
Colour plays a decisive role when designing logos for cars, too – think about the silver of Mercedes and the red of Ferrari, luxury and performance (energy).
What are some of the best car logos we have missed in this list? Let us know in the comments below!