Volkswagen announced recently that it plans to unveil a new logo in 2019, just as it starts to increase the number of electric vehicles in its range.
This is a rare event. Volkswagen’s logo has been tweaked several times over the years, but the basic design – a slightly separated V and W arranged vertically inside a circle – dates back to the 1930s. The most significant changes have been the removal of extra lines outside the circle and the creation of a three-dimensional effect in the 21st century.
Volkswagen isn’t the only manufacturer to follow the principle of evolution rather than revolution when it comes to logos. Others, however, have occasionally made big changes. Here we look at the results of both methods.
The Citroen logo has always consisted of two upward-facing chevrons which represent teeth on a gear wheel.
Originally, the chevrons were very simple. Since 2009 they have been more rounded, to the point where they would not work at all well on a gear, but the essential design is unchanged.
When Dacia was created half a century ago, its logo was a shield featuring an eagle. This was based on (but not identical to) the coat of arms of Argeș, the Romanian district in which Dacia built its first model, a locally assembled Renault 8.
The eagle survived until 1980, when a simpler logo was created. The present one – introduced in 2008, before Dacia’s first serious attempt to sell cars in the UK – is still roughly shield-like, but much more stylised.
Enzo Ferrari used a prancing horse (from the coat of arms of the Baracca family) on his racing cars long before he set up his own company.
It is still used as part of the Ferrari logo now, though the logo itself has gone through several changes of shape and colour.
The original Ford logo was nothing like the present one. A stylised version of Henry Ford’s signature and the use of an oval shape (now much flatter than it used to be) were both introduced before the First World War.
A little later, but still before World War II, the oval gained a blue background. The logo has been updated several times since then, and now appears more metallic, but it continues to resemble the one used in the 1920s.
Since 1948, all Land Rovers have had a logo which shows the two words arranged vertically with two horizontal and one diagonal lines acting as a complicated hyphen between them.
There has been a change, though. Land Rover was only a model name for three decades, and a logo for the company as a whole didn’t appear until 1989. Oval with a green background, it hasn’t changed much since then.
Mazda’s current logo, with a stylised M which can represent either wings in flight or an opening fan, was introduced in 1998.
It was completely unlike anything that had gone before. Previous Mazda logos looked quite different, and in some periods the company simply used its own name with a distinctive typeface.
The Peugeot family has been in business since 1810, and had already chosen the lion as its trademark well before it started to build cars.
Back in 1905, the lion was quite realistic. Later, it was replaced by the one used for the flag and coat of arms of the Franche-Comté region in northeast France, where Peugeot was and still is based.
The lion of the current logo, introduced in 2010, has a similar stance to the Franche-Comté one but is far more stylised. The image above shows how it evolved from the one used in 1980.
Renault used a series of round logos in its early days but designed a diamond-shaped one in the early 1920s. Since 1925, it has never used anything other shape, though there have been many variations in the design.
The diamond became so associated with the brand that in 1972 Renault decided it no longer needed to include its own name on the logo.
Toyota has cleverly managed to create a logo in which two out of the three ellipses resemble the letter T. According to the company, they also represent the hearts of the customer and the company, while the third, outer oval represents the world.
This design has remained basically unchanged since 1989. The one before it was completely different. To Western eyes, it looked like the word ‘teq’ (whatever that’s supposed to mean) in heavily stylised lower-case letters.
In fact, it was a slightly less stylised representation of the Japanese katakana symbols for ‘to’, ‘yo’ and ‘ta’.
The Vauxhall logo is based on a griffin which featured on the coat of arms of the 13th century soldier Falkes de Breauté (alternative spellings are available). The London district of Vauxhall is named after his house, which had previously been known as Falkes Hall and Foxhall.
Carrying a flag with the word V on it and usually looking behind itself, the griffin has appeared in several forms, becoming less realistic as time has gone on.
Since the 1990s the logo has been circular (somewhat distorting the griffin’s shape) and, following motor industry fashion, now appears far more metallic than it used to.
The very first Volvo built in 1927, and all others since, have had a logo consisting of a circle with an arrow pointing out of the top right. This is an ancient symbol which represents Mars, the male sex or – most relevantly in this case – iron.
Although Volvo has used it consistently, there have been many detail changes, as you might expect over 91 years.
The badge was originally held in place by a bar running diagonally along the radiator grille. It’s no longer needed, but it has become another part of Volvo’s brand identity, even though its angle has varied from one generation to another.