BMW comes clean about that propeller at the heart of its logo

The last time BMW refreshed their logo, Backstreet Boys were melting hearts and Hong Kong returned to China’s rule, it was 23 years ago. You can’t blame the team at München for harbouring an itch to tinker, if anything, one would’ve expected the company to have already rolled out a new one during its centennial celebrations a few years ago.

A logo makeover, particularly one as iconic as BMW’s roundel, will always have its share of detractors – humans being creatures of habit. So, it’s better to hear BMW’s own rationale for doing so (before you rant on social media, if not already) as articulated by Jens Thiemer, Senior Vice President for Customer and Brand.

BMW was formerly known as Rapp Motorenwerke.

“BMW is becoming a relationship brand. The old black ring was replaced, letting the new logo radiate more openness and clarity. We want to use this new transparent version to invite our customers, more than ever, to become part of the world of BMW.

In addition, our new brand design is geared to the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation for brands. With visual restraint and graphic flexibility, we are equipping ourselves for the vast variety of touch points in communication at which BMW will be present, online and offline, in the future. The new logo and brand design symbolise the brand’s significance and relevance for mobility and driving pleasure in the future.”

As is usually the case with corporate speak, Thiemer’s explanation is unnecessarily long-winded and flowery. What we think he’s actually saying is that BMW wants to attract new customers, so they made the logo graphically more adaptable across different communication platforms and that it reflects the promise of future BMW cars.     

Visually, the removal of the outer black ring (and hue) is a significant departure from the last iteration, as is the incorporation of the flat 2D look, with all the shadings and ‘depths’ removed. The minimalist theme is a tribute to the 1963 version of the roundel, including the font.

Questions about how the logo would work against a white background, whether it’s on sheet metal, a piece of paper or white attire, is anyone’s guess, but we are pretty sure that BMW had already figured that out, we’ll just have to be patient.

The 1929 ad that made everyone think it’s a propeller.

It’s also interesting that BMW took the opportunity to come clean on the ‘propeller’ that many believed is depicted in the four-colour quadrants at the heart of its logo – the white and blue portions are of course the state colours of Bavaria and that the company did begin life as an aircraft engine manufacturer.

However, BMW explains that this impression came about due to an advertisement in 1929 which placed the logo on a rotating propeller of an airplane, and the notion has stuck around since, with BMW making ‘little effort to correct the myth’.

We actually preferred the ‘myth’, you can read up on BMW’s new logo by clicking here and make up your own minds.


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