BMW Logo History

BMW’s badge is made up of two circles, one blue and one white. It hasn’t changed much over the years, but here’s the history of the BMW logo.
Written by Rob Shapiro
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Mar 23, 2023
Initially designed in 1916, the BMW hasn’t evolved much outside of some color changes. It’s still two circles with similar font and patterns that many people believe signify propellers, which is not true. This iconic logo has stood the test of time. 
The most iconic cars tend to be stamped with a logo that’s recognizable even to non-car enthusiasts. When cars were first introduced to the market (and changing society along the way), their logos had meaning. It was a testament that reflected the care that went into designing and manufacturing the car.
In the case of BMW, the logo hasn’t been significantly altered. It reflects many of the same values as it did when BMW released its first cars around the time of WWI.
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Before BMW was a car manufacturer, it was Rapp Motorenwerke.Around 1913, they specialized in aircraft engines. Then in 1917, they became Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW).
BMW didn’t feel the need to have a logo right away. Eventually, they tweaked the Rapp Motorenwerke logo, keeping the black circles with gold rings and lettering. As the years went on, BMW changed the rings and letters from gold to white. 
There is a misconception that the logo is meant to represent spinning airplane propellers as a tribute to the company’s origins. However, the blue and white segments inside the ring actually represent the flag of Bavaria with the colors reversed. The reason they are reversed is because of a law that prohibits national emblems from being used in the design of logos.

BMW logo changes through time

BMW has only made four changes to their logo over the years, and those changes were relatively minor. The overall logo has stayed close to the original design.  
  • 1936: This was the most significant change for the BMW logo, as it would set the stage for the logo that is still used today. The gold accents were replaced with silver, giving it a chrome look. 
  • 1963: BMW made slight modifications to its logo to give it some extra refinement. The contours were sharpened and the serif letters were changed to sans-serif in a bold white font. The blue in the center circle was changed to a darker shade
  • 1997: Extra dimension was added to the logo, but the elements stayed the same. 
  • 2020 to present: BMW made the logo more minimalist. It now features only grey, blue, and white as its main colors. 

What’s behind the BMW logo design?

Three key elements make up the BMW logo, including:
  • The emblem: The inverted colors are a direct nod to the Bavarian history of the company. The use of circles reflects inclusion, community, and connectedness. These elements are meant to be friendly and engaging.
  • The font: The company changed from original serif to sans-serif to appear more modern. The font was chosen for its simplicity. BMW uses Helvetica but claims that it is not the original Helvetica font.  
  • The color: The blue and white were also chosen to reflect the company’s Bavarian history. The font color for “BMW” is white or silver. Previously, it was silver, gold, and white.

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