During the presentation of the BMW Concept i4, the German manufacturer updated its logo for online and real-world communications, rather than actually appearing on the front of vehicles. For us, it is an occasion to look back at this famous emblem around which a legend persists.
Before starting, it's worth knowing that before BMW, there was Rapp Motorenwerke. This company dating from 1913 was specialised in the manufacture of aircraft engines. In July 1917, the name of the company changed to Bayerische Motoren Werke, or simply BMW.
At the very beginning, BMW did not have a logo because the business did not consider it necessary to have an emblem for the public to identify the brand. Not long later, BMW developed an identifier by tweaking the Rapp Motorenwerke badge. The business kept the black circle with the company name on the inside.
Over the years, the company changed the original gold rings and letters to white. In 1997, the logo took on a skeuomorphic appearance that made it appear three dimensional. Other than on the i4 Concept, BMW suggests the new, simplified logo isn't a badge for future vehicles.
As the logo evolved, a legend persisted for several decades. Many of you think that the BMW emblem represents the spinning propeller of an airplane. The blue and white section is a reference to the flag of the German state of Bavaria. However, the colours are reversed (if one reads the roundel clockwise) because the law there prohibits the use of national emblems for logos.
Before producing cars and motorcycles, BMW was in the aviation business. It entered the motorbike business in 1923 with the R32. The company's first car was a licensed copy of the Austin Seven, but by the early 1930s, it was producing internally designed vehicles.
The myth that the BMW logo represents the propellers of an airplane was born because of ... BMW. In 1929, an advertisement to promote a new engine showed an airplane with the brand's logo on the rotating propellers. Since then, many people believed in this meaning.
"BMW has long done nothing to dispel the myth," explains Fred Jakobs of BMW Group Classic. "The interpretation has been commonplace for 90 years, which somehow legitimises it."