BMW AG is a German company and one of the leading manufacturers of automobiles and motorcycles in the world. Founded in 1916 and based in Munich (state capital of Bavaria), Germany, BMW is also the parent company of the MINI and Rolls-Royce car brands. BMW AG stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft, or Bavarian Motor Works/Company in English.
The true meaning of the ‘sky blue and white quartered’ BMW logo is the most controversial issue of the company. According to Dr. Florian Triebel, Executive Board Member of BMW AG, “There are two traditions concerning the significance of the BMW logo and trademark, offering two different interpretations of its sky blue and white fields. One interpretation points to a rotating propeller. The other relates the BMW logo to Bavaria as the place where the products are manufactured”.
The BMW Logo//
The BMW logo consists of a thick black ring encircled by a silver lining. The letters ‘BMW’ are inscribed in a non-serif font in the top half of the black ring. The gap within the ring is divided into four equal alternative blue and white quarters. The BMW logo, commonly known as “roundel”, was created and registered in 1917. The created logo design is remarkably simple and projects an identity that is smart, clear, sporty and image-conscious. It is one of the most distinctive logo designs in the world, speaking highly of a brand-led company. The 1929 Dixi was the first vehicle to carry the famous BMW logo. The BMW logo has been altered very rarely and minutely and has maintained its original look throughout the company’s history. Here are some of the logos that have been used since 1917.
One version of the ‘sky blue and white checker box’ BMW logo myth connects it with a shining silver/white rotating propeller that the engineers of BMW were working on. The other relates the BMW logo to Bavaria as the place where the products of the company are manufactured and with the national colors of Bavaria (sky blue and white).
The SHINING PROPELLER Theory//
BMW’s current logo design is said to be evolved from the circular design of a rotating aircraft propeller. The white and blue checker boxes are supposed to be a stylized representation of a white/silver propeller blade spinning against a clear blue sky. The theory is further strengthened with the statement that the image has its origins in World War I in which the Bavarian Luftwaffe flew planes painted in blue and white. It also reflects the origins of BMW as a military aircraft engine maker during WWI and the belief that BMW started as an aero engine manufacturer. According to the company’s journal, “BMW Werkzeitschrift” (1942), the BMW logo emerged when a BMW engineer was testing the company’s first 320 bhp engine. He admired the reflection of the shining disc of the rotating propeller that radiated like an aura of two silver cones. In between the two cones, the blue from the sky shined that made the ‘rotating propeller into four areas of color – silver and blue’. The engineer, who envisioned this image, also saw three letters – B M W – reflected on the propeller. Thus, the BMW logo was born. However, according to a BMW spokesperson, the BMW logo does not symbolize a spinning propeller (although the imagery did appear in post-WWI advertisements). On other note, this statement is considered by many as merely a bogus claim made by the company to give a logical explanation to the public about the BMW logo’s creation. In fact, the first BMW aero-engine test took place in March 1918 – six months after the BMW logo had been created. Additionally, the founding myth of the BMW logo, the propeller, was a component of the engine that was never manufactured by BMW.
The BAVARIAN FLAG Theory//
For BMW, it was ‘a happy coincidence’ that the BMW logo symbolized the Bavarian flag colors and represented the company’s origin. When the BMW logo was first created, it was prohibited by the Trademark Act to feature ‘national coats of arms or other symbols of national sovereignty’ in a trademark. This led the BMW marketers to come up with a solution of ‘incorrectly configuring the color elements in the BMW logo from a heraldic perspective’, while also keeping its relationship with Bavaria evident.
There is every reason to conclude that the BMW logo was created to signify the company’s origin – Bavaria as the BMW production site. And despite growing hype about the true meaning of the logo design, the BMW logo has become one of the world’s most recognized symbols that exemplifies class, personality and sophistication.