The Ten Most Recognizable Car Logos

car logos

Think of the most iconic logos you know. They’re not only well-designed, they’re also intentional. As a result, they become synonymous with the brands themselves.

This applies to retail chains, fast food companies, computer manufacturers, and more.

It also holds true for car logos. You can look at some vehicles and immediately know their manufacturer just by the emblem affixed to the front or back.

Today, we’re taking a look at 10 car logo designs that have stood the test of time.

We know them. We recognize them. We drive them.

So, let’s learn a little more about them!

1. Toyota

In 1989, Toyota underwent a little branding redesign. In honor of the brand’s 50th anniversary, it decided to change its logo. The result was the fruition of five years’ worth of research and development.

As it stands, the current logo consists of three ovals in a “T”-shaped formation. There’s one large oval on the outside to represent the world, with two perpendicular ovals on the inside representing the company and its customers.

2. Audi

Who knew four overlapping circles in a row would go on to become one of the most recognizable car logos in history? It’s true, and the meaning goes a little deeper than you might think.

In 1932, four independent vehicle manufacturers, Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer, formed a merger. As a result, the original circles in the logo each had a different design inside, representing the singular entities.

Eventually, that design was swapped for simple circles that all look the same, representing the brand’s ultimate unity.

3. Cadillac

This is one of those car logos you can spot from a mile away, but do you know the story behind the design?

Cadillac got its name from Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac. A French explorer responsible for founding Detroit, Cadillac’s impression on the United States and the motor vehicle industry cannot be overlooked.

His family’s coat of arms? You guessed it. It’s very similar in design and color to the Cadillac car logo, down to the color tones, crown shape, and even the wreath motif.

4. BMW

Arguably no other letters have become so closely linked to luxury on the road. It makes sense, then, that those letters would play a prominent role in the brand’s car logo design.

Arching over a silver-ringed circle with a blue-and-white hourglass design, they remind drivers and passersby of their status. The two-toned color scheme? That’s a creative nod to the flag of Bavaria, its country of origin.

5. Subaru

Have you ever looked up at the nighttime sky and found the constellation of Pleadies? If so, did you recognize it from somewhere else?

If you think it bears an uncanny resemblance to the Subaru logo, you’d be correct. In Japanese, “Subaru” is the name of that star cluster. While the official word is that the owner simply loved the translation, it also illustrates the six companies that merged in 1953 to create Fuji Heavy Industries, which became Subaru’s parent company.

6. Mercedes-Benz

This is one of those car logos that’s so simple you can’t help but remember it.

The three-pointed star symbolizes Mercedes’ hope to succeed in three primary areas: in the sea, in the air, and on the land. When it was created in 1909, there was a four-pointed star design in the mix as well, but it was never picked up.

If it had been chosen, our roadways would look a little differently today!

7. Chevrolet

We can’t hear “Like a Rock” anymore without thinking about a Chevy. The manufacturer is also linked to one of the most classic car logos of all time.

Sure, it’s a bowtie, but what was the inspiration behind it? There are a few differing opinions.

Some say General Motors co-founder William C. Durant saw a hotel wallpaper that sparked his interest. His daughter has said he drew a quick markup of it on a tablecloth. Other claims assert that it’s modeled after the Switzerland flag or even a foreign newspaper ad.

Regardless, it’s simple and effective, and also enduring.

8. Volvo

One quick look at this logo and all you see is the company name, sterling silver font against a royal blue rectangle.

Look a little closer, though, and you’ll notice that the silver circle around the name is connected to an arrow, creating the symbol of the ancient god Mars.

Interestingly, this is also the symbol that alchemists use to represent iron. Coming from a brand so associated with iron-clad, sturdy vehicles, this logo definitely makes sense.

9. Buick

Founder David Dunbar Buick’s Scottish heritage was displayed prominently in the first Buick logo. It was decked out with his homeland’s coat of arms, complete with a deer head and cross.

When the brand revealed its three lines, the LeSabre, Invicta, and Electra, it swapped its elaborate logo for a simpler tri-shield. Each shield represents a line and the possibilities that riders have on the road.

10. Ferrari

For the most part, car logos are minimalistic and simple. Ferrari is the incredible exception to this rule.

In the early 1900s, race car driver Enzo Ferrari drew a horse on his car to honor and emulate Count Francesco Barraca, a war hero who drew a similar design on his aircraft.

After 1929, when he established his Scuderia Ferrari racing team, he stayed true to his horse logo, injecting a little bit of color with a bright yellow background.

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