BMW’s New Logo: a New Identity for a New Decade

BMW is familiar to all of us, car enthusiast or not, since it is one of the top car manufacturer in the world. As far as I (and I am sure most of us) can remember, the car manufacturer only had one logo: the classic roundel. That consistency is the reason why it stuck with us and became such a classic design. That classic logo that we became so familiar with was not even their first logo (in fact it was their fifth), but it kept most of the original design and was the official logo of the brand for nearly 23 years. With the new decade starting, BMW decided to have a cleaner start (see what I did there?). However, before diving into what made them redesign the roundel, let’s take a glimpse into the origin of the logo and its meaning for a more comprehensive understanding.


Origin and meaning

There is a common misconception that the roundel represents a spinning and stylized airplane propeller, which is not completely true.

First, why is it round? Back when BMW first registered as a company in October 1917 (yes, that’s more than a century ago!) with the German Imperial Register of Trademarks, they didn’t even have an emblem. The creator only took the founding company’s (Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH) badge, which was circular with black outer ring, erased the horse picture in the middle and replaced it with its still unforgettable color: blue and white; and added the letters BMW. That’s how it came to be.

Second, why is the inner color blue and white? They simply used the official color of the State of Bavaria, where the brand originated from. However, as you might have noticed, the colors are inverted. That is because back then, the local trademark law of the area forbade the use of the state’s coats of arms as a commercial branding.

With the emblem set, Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works or BMW was born.


Misconception origin

You might now wonder, if the company had such a beautiful back story, why the misconception that it was a propeller?

There was a time BMW manufactured non-car related part. Indeed, in 1929 (during the great depression) they were manufacturing aircraft engine for a company called Pratt & Whitney. The advertisement promotion of the company showcased the BMW emblem on the propeller of a flying airplane. Moreover, in 1942, this time in a BMW-based publication, an identical advertisement was showing. All of those ads plus a little effort from BMW to correct the misconception, you now have a general idea of why the misconception came to be.


The New Logo

For the first time ever, BMW replaced the old black ring of its logo with a clear one. ‘Clear’ not in white clear but translucent clear. You will be able to see through it and the color will be that of the car it is on. The white and blue that represent the Bavarian color are still present but now the emblem has a more flat design while it had a 3D look earlier.

As explained by Jens Thiemer, Senior VP of Customer and Brand BMW, “The old black ring was replaced, letting the new logo radiate more openness and clarity”.

Moreover, in addition to the adoption of clearer, flat design; the new emblem was also designed to appeal to a younger generation native to the digital age. It proves the willingness of BMW to embrace the digital age and adapt to whatever the future gives. In fact, the brand new logo was first seen in its Concept i4 car, which is BMW’s Electric Vehicle debut.

“The new logo and brand design symbolize the brand’s significance and relevance for mobility and driving pleasure in the future.”, Thiemer.

The Logo represents the identity of a brand and changing it always means that the company is committed to do something that it has never done before. However, only time will tell, and despite the Concept i4 only being a concept, it is a step in the right direction for BMW. Company has to adapt to the current market and technology otherwise it will be left behind since the competition is fierce in the automotive industry. All of that aside, do you like the new BMW emblem or do you prefer the old one? Let us know!



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