BMW has unveiled a new logo, as part of an update to its brand identity.
The new, flat version of the familiar roundel is one of the “first steps” of the updated identity, according to the company. It was revealed with the images of the BMW Concept i4 vehicle and represents a “look ahead” at the i4, which has a planned production date of 2021.
Jens Thiemer, senior vice president of customer and brand at BMW, says: “BMW is becoming a relationship brand.
The new logo and brand design symbolise the brand’s significance and relevance for mobility and driving pleasure in the future.”
The rebrand was designed together with Munich-based studio BECC Agency.
How has BMW’s logo changed?
The previous logo’s black ring has been replaced with a transparent one, which aims to “radiate more openness and clarity”, Thiemer says.
“We want to use this new transparent version to invite our customers, more than ever, to become part of the world of BMW,” he adds.
The company is seemingly hoping to expand the “world of BMW”. Thiemer says that the new brand design is “geared to the challenges and opportunities of digitalisation for brands”.
The transparent, two-dimensional has more “graphic flexibility” than the previous logo (which was designed in 1997). That is important when considering “touch points in communication” both “online and offline”.
A transparent logo is certainly more applicable across digital applications. It is also in keeping with another German car company, Volkswagen (VW), who last year revealed a two-dimensional design in preparation for an “electric future”. VW’s new badge means it can be illuminated on the front of vehicles and at showrooms.
The history of BMW’s logo explained
BMW was first commercially registered in 1917, emerging from a renamed aircraft engine manufacturer. The Treaty of Versailles — signed after World War I in an attempt to ensure peace in Europe — forbade Germany from building aircraft engines, so it changed its focus to railways and built-in motors.
This logo is the sixth update of the original. The blue and white colourway remain a constant throughout the logo’s various iterations. These colours are a reference to the blue and white Bavarian flag. BMW stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke GmbH, which translates approximately to Bavarian Engine Works Company.
Originally, the blue and white in the logo were inversed from the flag because of local laws about trademarks at the time which restricted commercial us of the state’s coat of arms.
Many people believe that the logo is a propeller — which tracks with the company’s origins. A 1920s advert even shows an aeroplane with the logo as its propeller.
This belief has endured, and BMW’s archive director Fred Jakobs wrote in an article published on the company’s website: “For a long time, BMW made little effort to correct the myth that the BMW badge is a propeller. This interpretation has been commonplace for 90 years, so in the meantime it has acquired a certain justification.”
Another design mystery is BMW’s kidney-shaped grilles which were first featured on the BMW 303 after World War 1. BMW itself has not commented on the origins of the distinctive grilles, though they are present on the Concept i4. This time they have two freestanding LED elements on either side.
What does an electric car sound like?
Other details from the preview of the i4 point to larger trends in electric vehicle design.
Sound design, for example, is an important aspect for electric vehicles, which are considerably more quiet compared to traditional petrol cars. BMW IconicSounds Electric is the brand’s attempt to recognise this need. The division, developed with composer Hans Zimmer, “aims to emotionalise BMW’s electric vehicles and make them audible using individual sound worlds”.
The “sound worlds” of the car range from “driving sounds” to “more intense and pronounced sounds of ‘Sport’ mode”. The company says that the sounds of doors opening and the “starting scenario” are included in the new design.
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