Volkswagen Logo History

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The Volkswagen logo is a household image that is known on an international level. In over seventy years, the logo has not changed a great deal and has stood the test of time. What most people do not know how ever is it's lush history dating back to Hitler's reign to current day with law suits debating the original creator of the logo. In short, the Volkswagen logo is memorable, scalable, and effective without color. In addition to discussing the evolution of its design, what makes a good logo, and my opinions on it, I will also discuss the historical background of the logo and the company itself. Although the design itself is very recognizable, I would say the history behind it is more intriguing.

Brief Volkswagen History

The beginning of Volkswagen actually begins on May 28th, 1937 in Germany. Automotive history was made with the founding of a brand new company called Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Just over a year later, the name changed to simply Volkswagenwerk GmbH. This name change would really mark the official time line start of the Volkswagen brand. This time line is extremely important in both the companies history and the logo design in which I will discuss a bit later. According to some historians, the creation of Volkswagen actually marked the end of Germany's World War I economic depression. But sadly, in my mind, really marked the beginning of a darker time to come which would be World War II. It's important to keep these historical events in mind when trying to analyze a design or logo. Could World War I and the depression influenced the look of the logo? Could events to come have an impact of the evolution of the logo? Sure, and it did.

If Germany was going through such a rough time, how did the Volkswagen brand come to be so quickly and how did it become so successful? The answer is actually Adolf Hitler. I'd like to take you back about four years to February 11th, 1933. On this day, Adolf Hitler, the new Chancellor of Germany made a public speaking appearance at a Berlin Auto Show. On this day, there was a huge crowd of auto executives and media personnel. Here, Hitler announced his plan for the motorization of Germany. The basic premise for this plan would be to produce a car that was affordable for everyone. Not a bad idea in my opinion. Probably one of the only decisions I'll agree with Hitler on. At the same time this was going on, a German automotive designer, Ferdinand Porsche, was designing and building a prototype for a strange looking, sleek, inexpensive, rear engine, air cooled car that could hold five people. Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche had meetings in 1933 and 1934 with them agreeing that Porsche would deliver the prototypes within one year. This is when, in 1938, all the testing was finished and they were being manufactured. Oddly enough though, very few were being produced at first. In fact, they were building military vehicles which included the “Kubelwagen”, meaning the German Jeep. The reason why I mention this is because there war vehicles did not have the VW logo in it like we see today. Instead, they had the KdF symbol meaning kraft durch freude which means strength through joy.

What Makes A Successful Logo

Before diving in to the evolution of the Volkswagen logo I would like to spend a little time discussing what makes a logo so successful. The reason why I want to go over some of these points is because I feel the current Volkswagen logo design is a great example at perfect logo design. For one, a successful logo needs to be both memorable and describable. Sure, with thousands of logos out there it gets extremely difficult to keep things simple and effective at the same time but it can be done. What I mean by memorable and describable is a design that really gets imprinted in the viewers head. For example, the I Love New York logo by Milton Glaser or even the Nike swoosh. If someone asked me to draw them, I could easy draw them...
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