Nissan Logo History

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Today’s elegantly monochrome Nissan logo is a far cry from the original design—but it’s not without the circular simplicity that defined the brand’s humble beginnings.
Nissan has been a key player in the auto manufacturing scene since the 1930s, but a lifetime in the industry doesn’t come without some noticeable transitions. Over its 90-year history, the Nissan logo has undergone no less than 29 variations—from color swaps to complete overhauls.
Obviously, Nissan isn’t afraid to switch things up. But at the center of the design, Nissan’s values, traditions, and core principles have shone through in each new iteration. 
Ready to learn more about this iconic Japanese automaker’s logo? We're here with a complete guide to Nissan’s logo history, plus the easiest way to cut down your monthly
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Nissan wasn’t always a car manufacturer. In fact, for most of its history, the Nissan group focused on real estate. When the real estate side went bankrupt in the mid-1990s, Nissan Motor Co. (the auto manufacturing division turned independent company) was born.
Still, Nissan has been manufacturing cars for a long time—long enough to undergo 29 different logos over the years. The most popular interpretation of Nissan (shorthand for Nippon Sangyo) comes from ancient hieroglyphics.
At first, the Nissan name was a reference to Datsun—an automobile brand owned by Nissan since the 1930s—with “dat” meaning investors and “sun” meaning… you get the point. In the Nissan name, these references are reversed: “ni” in Egyptian, refers to the sun, while “ssanmeans birth.
In the original 1933 logo design, both of these elements were present. A plain, sans-serif “Nissan” appears atop a red circle—a rising red sun representing Japanese ideals of national pride and respect.

Nissan logo changes through time

Twenty-nine variants might seem like a lot to cover, but most were light tweaks and minimally strayed from the core design. Here are the most influential Nissan logos over the years:
  • 1933: Humble beginnings show the Nissan logo in a sans serif font, surrounded by a blue rectangle laid over the top of a red sun. This simple design effortlessly describes the Nissan core values—respect, ingenuity, and simplicity.
  • 1940: This variation shrinks the old logo and puts it on top of a red trapezoid. Underneath the circle is the Nissan name, created using jagged strokes and rounded edges.
  • 1950: In a bold departure, the 1950s Nissan logo was a simple white name with a bright red, rectangular border. It’s hard not to recognize this logo out of the lineup.
  • 1959: As we approach the 1960s, the rounded corners disappear, and the rectangle itself shrinks—putting a greater emphasis on the modern-typeface Nissan name.
  • 1960: This experimental design removed all geometric shapes. The result? A red Nissan name is presented in a handwritten font.
  • 1967: In a departure from the brand’s recognizable color palette, this design kept the written concept going—adding a brown outline, italicizing the type, and making the “N” larger than the rest of the letters.  
  • 1970: Truly simplifying things, the 1970s logo is a simple Nissan inscription with a black, rectangular background. The letters appear at an even height and feel noticeably striking.
  • 1983: In a return form, this variant features the classic red run, blue rectangle design alongside the more modern Nissan typeface. Who doesn't like getting two logos for the price of one?
  • 2001: After Renault bought the brand, the logo shifted into a simplified silver emblem. However, this design leaned heavily into the circle and rectangle shape.
  • 2020 to present: The latest design of the Nissan logo is a true amalgamation of the best designs in Nissan history. Its sleek, circular design perfectly encapsulates the red sun while still feeling modern.

What’s behind the Nissan logo design?

Like all the best brands, Nissan’s logo history isn’t just fun to look at—it comes from a deep well of intentional design choices. Here are the key elements that make up the Nissan logo design:
  • The circle: Found only in the classic and most recent logo designs, the circle is used to represent unity, simplicity, and the Japanese symbol for respect—paying homage to the “rising sun” on the flag of Japan.
  • The border: With most Nissan logo iterations, a rectangle is used to border the Nissan name. In the most recent design, this rectangle exists as thin arcs. This geometric design draws the viewer's attention to the Nissan name.
  • Red color: While many iterations used a monochrome design, red plays a large role in the Nissan brand (including the most recent logo). Like the circle, red represents the rising sun.

How to save money on car insurance for your Nissan

Now that you know a little more about your Nissan’s logo history, it’s time to find the right
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By Max Werner
Updated on Feb 14, 2023
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett, Senior Editor.
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