The BMW roundel is one of the most famous logos in the world. Even people that know nothing about cars can recognize the BMW logo. But do you know where that logo came from? It’s probably not what you were told. A lot of people believe that the logo is supposed to represent a plane’s propellor spinning in front of a blue sky, as a way of showing the company’s history with aircraft engines. Except the image that everyone points at for this was made in 1929, a full twelve years after BMW registered their trademark of the logo.
So if it’s not from aviation, where did that logo come from? Well, the idea of a round logo ringed by the company name was taken from their predecessor, Rapp Motorenwerke. As for the logo itself, that comes from simple hometown pride. BMW is from Bavaria, a region in Germany. Here is the flag of Bavaria:
So if you put that flag inside a circle, you wind up with something remarkably close to the current BMW logo. So that’s it. No impressionistic aircraft depictions, no obscure metaphors, no confusing symbolism. They are just proud of where they came from. And from that, came one of the most iconic images in the history of the automobile. There’s something special about that.