Having a strong logo can create significant value; and that’s no less true in the automotive industry. In fact, car logos are among the most widely recognized amongst brands across the world. But have you ever wondered about what’s behind the creation and evolution of famous car logos? Often famous car logos are steeped in tradition, folklore and even mystery.
As automotive sales have increased over the last two decades, from 40 million in 1990 to a predicted 81.6 million by the end of 2018, true identification in this sea of cars on the road is what every automaker is after. It’s no surprise then that most auto manufacturers make brand positioning a key item on their marketing agenda. And while this plays an important role in the success of car companies, most consumers don’t know the history behind their favourite brands.
So, to shed some light on the origins of six famous car logos, car insurance company The Zebra has created the following infographic. It details the humble origins of many of today’s most popular car brands. Each company started with innovative ideas, courageous entrepreneurs, and a vision of what the future could be. However, some of these brands began as companies that had no idea they would eventually be selling automobiles all across the globe.
The unlikely origins of six famous car companies
In 1899, Fiat (Fabrica Italiana Automobili Torino) was founded by Giovanni Agnelli who decided to construct a motor vehicle prototype. When they began production there were just 35 employees. Very soon Fiat was selling well not only on the domestic market but also abroad, acclaimed as a luxury commodity for the elite consumer. And at the time, the original Fiat 500 was one of the smallest cars with its Italian nickname, “topolino,” translating literally to “little mouse.”
The Fiat logo, however, aims to show the Italian passion for technology and design, along with laurel leaves reminiscent of the logo used in the 1920s.
Carmakers love wings, and Aston Martin is no exception. In 1913, two auto and racing enthusiasts, Lionel Martin and Robert Bamford founded Aston Martin. The name came after one of their original creations took first place in the Aston Clinton Hill Climb race in 1914. A later model appeared in the 1964 James Bond film Goldfinger and has since become as iconic as the James Bond character himself.
The Aston Martin logo denotes speed, but has evolved over the decades from simple superimposed A and M letters within a circle to, in 1927, a V-shaped logo depicting the wings of a scarab beetle, regarded as a manifestation of the sun god by Ancient Egyptians. The designer of the Aston Martin logo was both a race car driver and avid Egyptologist.
Mazda is a brand obsessed with symbolism; the name comes from Ahura Mazda, the god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony in early Asian civilizations. It also derives from the name of its founder, Jujiro Matsuda, whose original company was a cork manufacturing plant that supplied the Japanese army during WWI. After the war ended, the demand for cork decreased dramatically. Not wanting to close shop, Matsuda turned his focus to automotive manufacturing.
Its current logo, which was introduced in 1998, was designed by Rei Yoshimara who created an emblem he thought looked like an owl. In fact, he didn’t plan to make it look like an “M” at all.
One of the most iconic automobile manufacturers in the US, few things conjure up images of unbridled freedom and rugged durability like a Jeep. In the Quad’s first public debut in the United States, it was driven straight up the steps of the US Capital Building in Washington DC. When asked what it was, the driver simply said, “It’s a Jeep.” And since 1944, the brand has been producing powerful, tough vehicles for both military and civilian use with the Wrangler being the only car to have its doors intentionally removed.
The name “Jeep” is thought to be a verbal abbreviation from the Ford GP, one of the first prototypes of the car produced. The name stuck and was used in the now-iconic logo, which is representative of the car’s tough, rugged qualities.
Mini is a British car manufacturer, specializing in small cars that have become iconic throughout the world. Founded in 1957 by Sir Leonard Lord of the Morris Company, in 1961, racing legend John Cooper souped up his Mini Cooper, turning it into a true performance vehicle and rally demon, and forever associating his name with the brand. Today we know it as the Mini Cooper 997.
The wings of Mini’s logo are meant to symbolize speed and freedom of expression; two traits valued highly by the brand and its drivers.
Before he making cars, Ferruccio Lamborghini manufactured tractors from surplus military hardware. He owned a Ferrari and experienced frequent issues with it, so he told Enzo Ferrari that the cars he made didn’t have a good clutch system. In response, Ferrari told Lamborghini that he knew nothing or supercars. To prove him wrong, Lamborghini began producing cars and created the Lamborghini we know today.
Lamborghini’s logo traces back to founder Ferruccio’s 1962 visit to Don Eduardo Miura’s ranch, where fighting bulls were bred. So heavily influenced by the power and presence of these animals, Lamborghini adopted the bull as the emblem for his cars. Soon after, he began to use the names of fighting bulls and bullfighting terms for his cars (except for the Miura, which was named after the breeder); names like Islero, Espada, Urraco, Jalpa, Diablo, Murcielago, Gallardo and Aventador.
Daniel is an Art Director and Graphic Designer with over a decade of experience in advertising and marketing in the Greater Toronto Area.