BMW logo history, symbol meaning and evolution
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BMW logo history, symbol meaning and evolution

BMW Logo

How well do you know the BMW logo? You’ve probably seen this mark a few times when you’ve been out on the road in your own car. Maybe you’ve spotted a BMW showroom or seen the logo on the back of another vehicle. Perhaps you’re the proud owner of a BMW car yourself.

However, while most people are familiar with the BMW logo, they don’t know where it originally came from, or what it’s supposed to mean. 

Today, we’re going to be introducing you to the BMW logo as it stands now, as well as the history of the logo, where it came from, and what it’s intended to symbolize.

BMW history: The BMW logo today

The BMW insignia today is a badge made up of two circles. The inner circle of the BMW symbol features a check pattern of white and blue. The wider circle around this central image is where you’ll find the letters “BMW” on a clear background. 

The typography for the BMW logo is a simple sans-serif font in all capital letters. 

Like many popular car companies, BMW has maintained a very similar image for its logo for a long time. The white and blue logo now appears on all BMW merchandise, including the cars themselves. According to the official BMW brand, the name of the logo is the “BMW roundel”. 

BMW logo history: brand overview

Founded: 1916
Founder: Franz Josef Popp, Camillo Catiglioni and Karl Rapp
Headquarters: Munich, Germany
Logo downloads:

The BMW brand, otherwise known as Bayerische Motoren Werke is a German automotive company originally launched in 1916. The business is also responsible for producing Rolls-Royce Motor cars, and Mini cars too. 

BMW is one of the best-selling luxury automobile brands in the world, alongside Audi and Mercedes Benz. 

For a while, many people believed the white and blue shapes in the BMW logo were intended to represent a spinning propeller, as BMW has a history in the aircraft engineering sector. However, the reality is the blue and white colors actually symbolize the country of origin for the brand – Bavaria. 

The quarters of the inner circle within the BMW emblem display the state colors of Bavaria – white and blue, but they are in the inverse order. This was a deliberate decision because at the time of creating the BMW logo design, it was against trademark law to use state colors.

The old BMW logo: BMW logos over the years

There haven’t been a large number of BMW logo changes over the years. Though the company has tweaked its image occasionally, it’s easy to see the origins of the car maker’s original design in the BMW logo evolution. 

The initial version of the BMW logo was designed in 1916. This design is very similar to the one we know today, featuring the iconic blue and white insignia.


The most significant difference between the old BMW logo and the one used today, is the color choices. The BMW lettering in this case is on a black background, and both the circles and fonts of the BMW emblem are written in gold. 

The font is also a little different here. BMW, like many older companies, chose a serif font to convey sophistication. 

The pattern changed slightly in 1923, as the company experimented with thicker gold lines, and a much bolder font.


In 1936, BMW made one of the most significant changes to the BMW emblem. The golden accents were replaced with silver, to adhere to a growing demand for a futuristic, chrome look. The central white and blue pattern was altered too, with a much lighter color of blue. 

The black circle around the central pattern also seemed more prominent in the 1930s logo, as the silver outlines were much thinner. Lettering for the “BMW” font was now in an elegant grey, with a more distinct set of serifs. 


BMW refined its look with a more modern BMW logo emblem in the 60s. The contours of the badge became sharper, and the serif letters were replaced with a sans-serif type in a bold white font. The colors in the central circle changed again, this time to a darker blue. 

The silver framing outlining the BMW symbol was also replaced by a thin double white-and-black line, for a clean effect.


The BMW logo best-known today may look slightly different depending on whether you see it on a car, or in BMW marketing.  The vehicle badge is a version of the previous logo, designed in shades of silver, white, black, and blue.

Though this badge looks a little more three dimensional than the previous version, it contains many of the same elements. There’s another BMW logo symbol on the market too, though this won’t necessarily appear on all BMW vehicles. 

For 2020, the company made their image a lot more minimalist, featuring just grey, blue, and white as central colors.

BMW symbol meaning

The answer to “What does the BMW logo means?” is simple enough. The symbol was designed with a focus on the Bavarian history of the automobile company. The use of the inverted colors of the Bavarian flag pays homage to the heritage of the organization. 

At the same time, there are other meanings you could potentially draw from the BMW logo. The use of various circles encasing one-another is an excellent symbol of inclusion, community, and connectedness. 

The choice to use a softer, sans-serif font for the “BMW” word mark is also deliberate, making the company seem more friendly and engaging. 

Many people also still connect the BMW logo to the aircraft industry, saying the white and blue pattern in the middle reminds them of the high-speed propeller of a plane against a blue sky.

BMW logo colors

For the most part, the main elements of the BMW logo have remained consistent over the years. The company has chosen circles as its primary shape since inception, and it continues to use the colors of the Bavarian flag for its central image. 

However, the color of the font and the surrounding outlines for the logo have shifted a few times. 

Currently, the most important BMW logo color choices are the white and blue of the Bavarian flag, inverted to help maintain compliance with trademark laws. Though the exact shade of blue used by BMW has changed partially from time to time, the overall color choice remains the same. 

The font color for BMW is currently white or silver, but it has also jumped between silver, gold, and white shades in the past. 

Like the design of the BMW logo, various aspects of the BMW logo font have remained the same over the years. Like many companies, BMW switched from its original serif font to a sans-serif alternative as it discovered the importance of sharing a ‘modern’ image with its customers. 

The original font was a bold choice, often written in gold or silver. As the company evolved, the typography became more simplistic and modern. The font for the BMW logo is sometimes described as Helvetica, though BMW argues the type isn’t exactly the same as the original Helvetica font.

The BMW logo today

Some companies scarcely need an introduction, and that’s certainly the case with BMW. This business has built a powerful name for itself over the years, with a commitment to quality, and a focus on a consistent brand image. 

Today, the BMW logo is synonymous with quality and style among many car owners. 

Stephen Peate
Creative director
Stephen Peate
Creative director
As Fabrik’s creative director, Stephen oversees complex branding programmes. He advises our clients on their tone of voice, creates logos and visual identities and crafts names for companies, products and services. Writing for Brand Fabrik Stephen reflects his love for logo design and visual identity.

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