German car brands: The definitive guide to German car logos
You can probably envision a handful of German car logos right now. The four rings of Audi, the three-pointed star of Mercedes Benz, and even the checkboard circle of BMW all come to mind. German car brands are some of the biggest, and most popular vehicle manufacturers in the world.
Though perhaps not the most affordable of brands, German automakers are known for their commitment to luxury, performance, and class. Indeed, many people consider Germany to be the birthplace of the automotive industry, as it’s here where the first heat engine was invented.
Today, we’re going to be looking at some of the better-known German car company logos and how they’ve risen to fame throughout the globe.
Mass market car brands from Germany
German car logos spread across a number of auto manufacturing sub-categories, from incredible performance and sports cars to more accessible mass-market vehicles.
We’re beginning our adventure into the world of German car brands by looking at some of the more affordable, and easier to obtain vehicles from the country.
Though perhaps not as well-known in some parts of the world as other companies (like Porsche), Borgward is an extremely well-known manufacturer in Germany.
Launching in 1919, the company began when Carl F. W. Borgward started producing automobile components, before eventually moving to three-wheeled cars and trucks.
The Borgward logo is a beautiful diamond shape, with a banner featuring the “Borgward” name in all-capital, sans-serif letters in the middle. There are two red triangles within the diamond shape, textured to look similar to the lights on a car.
First launching in 1937, Volkswagen is one of the most famous car manufacturers. Though the brand has a spotty history, and a connection to Adolf Hitler, it has managed to sidestep a negative reputation for the most part and remains a popular company to this day.
The Volkswagen logo features a monogram of “V” and “W” inside a thin blue circle. The combined letters create a fantastic, angular shape, ideal for the front or back of a modern vehicle.
One of the older companies in our list of German car brands, Opel launched officially in 1862, though the first car didn’t appear until much later, in 1899. The Opel brand started with the production of bicycles and sewing machines, but has since evolved to become a popular car company.
Open’s logo is sleek and stylish, with a zig-zag, almost lightning-bolt style applique over a silver circle. The name “Opel” appears in simple, sans-serif letters, all capital) across the top of the badge.
Performance car brands from Germany
Many of the German car brand logos we know around the world today belong to high-class, luxury, or performance cars. Germany’s expertise in engineering has allowed the country to produce some of the most impeccable vehicles of all time.
Some of the German automakers best known for their performance cars include:
Alpina, launched in 1965, is one of the better-known car manufacturers in Germany, thanks to its excellent commitment to high-quality vehicles. The Alpina automobile manufacturing company works closely with BMW and has a number of processes integrated into the BMW production lines.
The Alpina German car logo features a red and blue shield, with components from within the construction of a car displayed on them. Around the shield is a thick black circular border, featuring the word, “Alpina”.
Created to produce high-performance cars on behalf of the already popular Audi brand, Audi Sport is a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. The company specialises in the production of all kinds of high-quality vehicles and components.
While simple, the Audi sport logo makes the right impact. The red coloring delineates passion and power, while the simple but approachable font helps to remind customers of the personality behind the car company they’re dealing with.
A specialist division of the “BMW” brand, BMW M focuses on the creation of sensational high-performance cars for consumers across the globe. The “M” in the logo stands for “motorsport” and was initially created to support the BMW racing program.
Eventually, however, the company became more closely connected with performance cars.
The forward-leaning design of the logo delineates speed, while the blue and red stripes represent passion, reliability, and excellence.
One of the more popular German automakers throughout history, Brabus is a high-performance company founded in 1977. The company specializes specifically in Maybach, Smart, and Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles, and offers tune-ups and personalization’s to cars.
The Brabus logo is sleek, simple, and effective. The main focus of the brand mark is the Brabus name, written in bold serif letters to highlight heritage and class. There’s also a monogram “B” in a circle above the wordmark.
The high-performance subsidiary of the Mercedes Benz brand, Mercedes AMG independently hires contractors and engineers to customize Mercedes Benz vehicles. The AMG company was originally an independent firm, until Daimler Chrysler took on the controlling interest in 1999.
The AMG logo from Mercedes demonstrates speed and performance. The letters, angular and sans-serif are inherently modern. The forward-leaning lines next to the wordmark make the logo look as though it’s driving forward.
Sports car brands from Germany
Germany is no stranger to racing and sports cars. Ask anyone the question “What cars are made in Germany?” and you’ll surely get a number of names associated with racing. Vehicle manufacturers from Germany are excellent at producing speedy, high-quality cars.
Just some of the sports car logos you may have seen include:
Easily among the most memorable of the German car logos we’re looking at today, Artega created its first product in 2007. The company, though a lot younger than many of the other organizations on this list, has a very historical logo, which looks almost like a coat of arms.
The Artega logo is actually derived from the coat of arms from the Delbruck town, where the Artega factories and offices are located. The black dog refers to the guardian deity, while the tree with rose hips comes direct from Delbruck.
Created by Erich Bitter, the Bitter car brand was a premium automobile marque produced across both Germany and Austria. Before launching his own car company, Erich was a former racing car driver himself. The Bitter company focuses on creating new bodies for other manufacturer vehicles.
The Bitter logo is a simple and stylized version of the letter “B” intended to represent simplicity, modernity, and class. The image is usually depicted in either silver, or a maroon red.
Ranked among some of the most popular cars in the world, Isdera’s vehicles first appeared on the market in 1984, with a company founded in Leonberg, Germany. The company focuses exclusively on stunning, high-quality sports cars, hand-built by a small team of professionals.
Isdera has only ever sold a very small number of cars, perhaps because of the custom-made nature of the vehicles. The Isdera logo, with its bold, unique, and almost geometric elements is perfect for showcasing both power and a modern flare.
Best-known for the production of single-seat racing cars and sports cars, Melkus was originally created by race car driver Heinz Melkus, in 1959. Though the company no longer produces vehicles today, there are still a number of these German car logos on the road.
The logo for the Melkus brand is wonderfully retro and stylish at the same time. The image features a circle in blue, with a silver shield and border. In the middle of the shield is an outline of a racing car, and the word “Melkus” written in sans-serif font.
Luxury car brands from Germany
While there is a wide selection of German car companies spread across the country, each offering unique vehicles, luxury and sports cars are the most common from the region. German luxury car brands are so popular they’ve spanned the entire globe today.
Easily among the most recognisable logos in the world, the Audi car logo (or the four rings), is present all throughout the world today. Audi, originally launched in 1909, is a world-class provider of high-performance cars, with a number of vehicles to offer people with different budgets.
The Audi insignia, featuring four interconnected rings, apparently stands for the connected companies which came together to produce the Audi we know today. The four-ring logo represents a series of contributing companies within the Auto Union.
Another luxury car brand logo you’re sure to be familiar with, BMW started life in Germany during 1916, thanks to the innovation of Franz Josef Popp, Camillio Catiglionia and Karl Rapp. Today, BMW is among the best-selling automobile brands worldwide.
The BMW logo features a simple circle with a Bavarian flag in the middle. The use of various circles within the logo is intended to symbolize community and inclusion. The BMW sans-serif wordmark sometimes included with the logo is modern and friendly – welcoming all kinds of drivers.
Currently a subsidiary of Mercedes Benz, Maybach is a high-luxury car manufacturer originally founded by Wilhelm Maybach in 1909. The company was once a standalone brand, but now stands as a component of the Mercedes brand, producing ultra-luxury editions of various cars.
The Maybach logo is an excellent insight into the prestige of the brand. The golden triangular shape encasing a series of two overlapping “M” shapes creates an image similar to a castle or empire.
Unfortunately, the car’s logo has also been linked to a Swastika in the past.
Ranked among the best-known German car logos, the Mercedes symbol features a three-point star within a sleek silver circle. The star, according to Gottlieb Daimler, is intended to represent protection.
However, the number “3” has also been associated with the concept of perfection in a number of cultures.
The Mercedes-Benz logo is sometimes accompanied by a wordmark for the name of the company, written in a sophisticated serif font, in sentence-case structure.
It’s difficult to find anyone aware of German car brands who isn’t familiar with the Porsche logo. A symbol of high-performing cars around the world, Porsche has used a version of the same logo for more than 60 years. The emblem features a shield with the State of Wurttemberg’s coat of arms.
Both the Wurttemberg coat of arms and the coat of arms for Stuttgart, featuring a prancing black horse in the center, come together to create the unique Porsche logo. The design is intended to pay homage to the history and origins of the brand.
Smart is a modern German automotive company, and a division of the Daimler AG company. This company takes a unique approach to the production of luxury cars, focusing on micro and sub-compact vehicles, such as the Fortwo and Forfour.
The Smart company uses a sleek and modern design for its logo. The name “Smart” is written in sans-serif font on a black background, with a circular shape beside it. The shape combines a silver arrow pointing to the right, with a silver “C”, intended to demonstrate forward-thinking engineering.
Vehicle manufacturers from Germany
While Germany is certainly home to a huge number of car manufacturers, there are also a host of other forms of vehicles that come from the region too.
Let’s take a look at some of the better-known vehicle manufacturers from Germany:
Daimler, or Daimler AG is one of the largest vehicle conglomerates in the world. Previously named Daimler-Benz and Daimler-Chrysler, the German multinational corporation owns a number of the biggest brands in the world, including Mercedes and Western Star.
Daimler’s logo is as powerful and sophisticated as the company itself, featuring the word “Daimler” written in a serif font in a professional grey color. Though simple, the Daimler logo helps to highlight the heritage of the company.
A well-known international corporate group active in the engineering sector, the EDAG group is one of the largest independent development companies for the automotive and aviation region. First launching in 1987, EDAG now has more than 60 locations worldwide.
The EDAG German logo features the wordmark for the company in bold, sans-serif letters, next to a stylized monogram overlapping the letters “E” and “D”, the unique use of this monogram creates a shape which looks similar to a component from a car.
An abbreviation of Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, MAN was a company fom Munich, in Germany, responsible for the creation of diesel engines and commercial vehicles. The company officially became defunct on the 31st of August 2021, after merging with Traton SE.
The MAN logo is simple and effective, featuring the letters “M-A-N” written in all capitals in a bold-sans-serif font. The wordmark is surrounded by a semi-circle to demonstrate inclusivity and global appeal.
Best-known for the creation of busses throughout Germany, Setra is a subsidiary of the Daimler Truck AG company. The name comes from “selbsttragend”, which means “self-supporting,” and it refers to the integral nature of the construction of the vehicles in the 1950s when the competitor trucks featured a separate body and chassis.
Setra’s logo is an angular rectangle shape in red with a black and white background. In the middle of the geometric shape is the “Setra” wordmark, written in all capital sans-serif letters.
Wiesmann GmbH is a German automobile manufacturer specializing in hand-built custom convertible vehicles. Founded by Martin and Friedhelm Wiesmann, the business temporarily closed in 2014, but opened again with a greater focus on electric vehicles.
The Wiesmann logo features the name of the company, including the phrase “Manufaktur De Individualisten” underneath. There’s also a silver lizard as a kind of mascot, perhaps demonstrating the flexibility of the brand.
Defunct car brands from Germany
Finally, we come to some of the German car company logos you may not see as often on the roads today. Defunct car brands from Germany, like DKW and Horch, no longer create their well-known vehicles, but their logos remain recognizable.
DKW or Dampf-Kraft-Wagen stands for “Steam powered car” in English, so you may not be surprised the business is now defunct. The DKW brand was one of the four companies responsible for forming the Auto Union in 1932, making it an ancestor of the Audi company.
The DKW logo featured four circles, similar to the Audio logo we know now, to represent the Auto Union. There was also a silver shield with a green triangle in the center, displaying the company’s monogram.
A car brand manufacturer founded in 1904, Horch wasn’t around long before it eventually merged with DKW, Wanderer, and Audi to form the Auto Union. The company was best-known for the production of premium, high-quality cars.
As you might expect, since the company shut down in 1959, the Horch logo is a little outdated, featuring the letter “H”, with the word “Horch”, in oddly-shaped letters at the top. The word “Horch” balanced atop the H looks almost like a crown.
Wanderer was a German manufacturer of motorcycles, automobiles, vans, and other machines. Established as Winklhofer and Jaenicke in 1896, the company lasted until 1945, before officially merging into he Auto Union.
The Wanderer logo is surprisingly modern for its time, featuring a sleek “W” in green, with an almost wing-like effect on each arm of the “W”. The full name of the brand was also written in sans-serif capital letters beneath the mark.
Wartburg was a car marque best-known for its vehicle models produced in East Germany. According to experts, the company has origins dating back to 1989, and the name comes from the Wartburg castle, which looked down over the town of Eisenach where the cars were created.
The Wartburg logo is wonderfully traditional, featuring a wordmark in a handwritten signature style. The logo also displays the iconic castle which inspired the name for the company, along with the words Automobilwerk Eisenach.
Celebrating German car brands
There’s no denying the fact German car brands have taken the world by storm. No matter where you look today, you’re sure to find a handful of German car logos on the road, whether you’re viewing the circles of Audi, or the unique coat of arms behind Porsche.
Make sure you check out our individual Logofile posts to learn more about the brands mentioned on this list. You can also check out some of our other handy insights into famous logos throughout the Fabrik website or contact us to learn more about creating an unforgettable logo of your own.