BMW updates logo to mark a “new chapter”

The logo was unveiled along with news of the BMW Concept i4, and aims to represent an “openness and clarity” for the car manufacturer.

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?

Courtesy of BMW

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.

A BMW advert from the 1920s, which shows the logo in the propeller. Courtesy of BMW

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.”

The concept car’s grilles. Courtesy of BMW

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?

The interiors of the concept car. Courtesy of BMW

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.

What do you think about BMW’s new logo? Let us know in the comments below.

Hide Comments (17)Show Comments (17)
  • Joao Santos March 4, 2020 at 5:42 pm

    The agency the did the new identity is from Munich, BECC agency.

  • Roy March 5, 2020 at 1:44 am

    I don’t like it. White lettering on a transparent background?

  • Richard Aldred March 5, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Awful. Simply awful.

  • Paul Copley March 5, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Works for me.

  • Ryan Stringer March 5, 2020 at 11:02 am

    Whenever a big company like BMW change their logo, I see a lot of different opinions – mostly anger and hate though (insert example). We only see a snippet of logo placement examples at first. I reserve my judgment until I start to see it in real-world examples.

    I do wonder if BMW looked at Mastercard and thought about dropping ‘BMW’ and just having the blue and white circle…

  • Steve Jervis March 5, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    possibly the biggest noise about the smallest change of any logo of any type from any company ever.

  • Tony Lyons March 5, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    Removing the black ring makes it much less distinctive. Poor letterforms too, especially the squashed “B”. BMW car owners will be out with their toothpicks every weekend trying to clean around the badge if they apply it as they have done on the Concept i4.

  • Steve Carter March 5, 2020 at 3:08 pm


  • Sam Tarpey March 6, 2020 at 9:22 am

    When you accidentally turn a layer off in illustrator

  • Annika Coughlin March 8, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I like the 1933 one the best.

  • Michael Wolff March 8, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    A pointless conceit. A waste of time, energy and, no doubt, money.

  • Conner March 9, 2020 at 2:17 am

    It looks like a nightmare to implement. What do you do on a light background or a color background? The lack of a full color throws off the weight of the letters. I imagine they’ll dump it in a year like lots of recent rebrands

  • fenogy March 9, 2020 at 9:48 am

    Awful. Sad to see this change.drop the brand communication stuff, how this gonna look on a white car?

  • Chris March 9, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    The badge in the top photo reminds me of a life preserver, but I liked the part about sound theory. I’ll get in the car.

  • Alexandre BURMEISTER March 14, 2020 at 12:46 am

    I guess, searching for simplicity or minimalism, it came really weak in design and for the symbology that BMW represents as a brand.

  • Marius Lotter April 3, 2020 at 4:52 am

    Awful, just awful. I’m with Ryan: copy M/Card, Merc, Audi. Keep the black with the blue and white. Merc maybe one of the best logo design…ever. Audi, VW, McDs, Toyota, etc…

  • Keith Moody @waymaker September 7, 2022 at 11:19 am

    One of the few times when an older version (1997) is actually better than the latest version…

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