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The Meaning and History Behind BMW Logo

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

“Many people believe the BMW logo is a stylized propeller. But the truth is a little different.” -Fred Jakobs, Archive Director, BMW Group Classic

What does the BMW logo mean?

The first key to the meaning of the BMW logo are its colors: white and blue are the colors of the State of Bavaria in Germany, home of BMW. The BMW emblem with the four colored quadrants represents an airplane propeller. It started as a myth but BMW has endured the meaning ever since.

There was no need for a BMW symbol at first

When the name BMW - the Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works - was first included in the commercial register in July 1917, there was no company logo. Similarly, the first ad from the same month also lacked any BMW symbol or emblem. The cause was because BMW's main business at that time was the production and maintenance of aircraft engines for the German Air Force.

BMW emerged from the firm Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH (1913-1917), having its first logo from October 1917, which continued Rapp’s tradition of having a black ring around the company logo bearing the company name. The company’s home state of Bavaria, was also to be represented on the company logo. The quarters of the inner circle on the BMW badge display the state colors of the State of Bavaria – white and blue.

Since this BMW publication from 1929, the myth that the BMW logo is a propeller has endured.

“For a long time, BMW made little effort to correct the myth that the BMW badge is a propeller,” explains Fred Jakobs.

So it is not a hundred percent true that there is a propeller in BMW’s company logo, but it’s not entirely wrong either. Constant repetition has made this explanation a self-propagating urban myth.

The New Logo

More than just a design update: The layout of BMW’s new brand look and feel, stands for the mobility of the future.

“With this new transparent variant, we want to invite our customers more than ever to become part of the BMW world. In addition, our new brand design is geared to the challenges and opportunities of digitization for brands. With visual restraint and graphic, we are equipping ourselves flexibly for the wide variety of contact points in communication at which BMW will show its presence online and offline in the future. The additional communication logo symbolizes the significance and relevance of the brand for mobility and driving pleasure in the future.” explains Jens Thiemer, Senior Vice President Customer & Brand BMW.

How The BMW Logo Changed Over The Years

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