What does BMW stand for?

So is it a propeller or not? For decades, the BMW logo has been the subject of the hottest discussions. And all because of one advertising trick. Find out what the BMW emblem really means, how it originated, and how the brand changes are reflected in the new BMW logo.

Many people think that the BMW logo is a stylized propeller, but in fact, this is not entirely true.

Fred Jakobs, Director of the BMW Group Classic Archive

What does BMW stand for in English

The name BMW – Bayerische Motoren Werke, which means “Bavarian Motor Works” – first appeared in 1917. BMW was born from the renaming of Rapp Motorenwerke, an aircraft engine manufacturer based in Munich, the capital of Bavaria in southern Germany. Although the company was renamed, its technical equipment, property, and staff remained unchanged.

When the BMW name was first entered in the commercial registry in July 1917, the company had no logo. Even the first advertisement, published the same month, was made without one. In this advertisement, the company announced its program for the future: along with aircraft engines, it planned to produce engines for automobiles, agricultural machines and small ships.

“At that time, the logo was not as important to the general public as it is today, and besides, BMW simply had no end users to whom the company could address,” explains Fred Jacobs. After all, the main line of business was the production and service of aircraft engines for the German air force.

BMW logo with the colors of Bavaria in reverse order.
Nevertheless, on October 5, 1917 the young company received its logo. The first BMW emblem, which was registered in the German Imperial Trademark Registry, retained the round shape of the old Rapp logo with the addition of two gold lines and the letters “BMW”.The logo had to reflect the Bavarian origin. Therefore, the four sectors of the inner circle of the logo are in the colors of Bavaria – white and blue. However, they are placed in reverse order due to legal restrictions of the time. The trademark law prohibited the use of elements of state coats of arms and other symbols of power on commercial logos.

bmw logo 1933 1953

What does the BMW logo mean?

Even today, many people think that the BMW logo is a spinning propeller. But why? This legend of the BMW propeller came a few years after the first company logo was created. A 1929 BMW advertisement depicted airplanes with BMW logos inscribed with spinning propellers. The purpose of this advertisement at the beginning of the world economic crisis was to promote the new aircraft engine produced by BMW under license from Pratt & Whitney. The propeller fit perfectly into the advertising image of the young company, as it emphasized its roots and experience in building aircraft engines.

What does the BMW logo mean

Then in 1942 BMW itself linked the propeller with its emblem. An article appeared in the BMW magazine called Flugmotoren-Nachrichten (“Aircraft Engine News”), which only supported the opinion of the connection between the logo and the rotating propeller. The article was illustrated with a photo in which the BMW logo was inscribed in the spinning propeller.

So, the history of the BMW logo is based on a legend that lives on to this day. “For a long time, BMW made almost no effort to refute the legend of the BMW emblem and propeller,” adds Fred Jacobs. Therefore, according to the expert, we cannot call those who hold the opinion that the BMW logo is a stylized propeller completely wrong. Although, it is also wrong to state unequivocally that the BMW logo is a propeller. Repeated repetitions have allowed this notion to become firmly entrenched. “This interpretation has been prevalent for 90 years, and over time it has gained a certain right to exist,” emphasizes Jacobs.

The new BMW brand logo for communication.
More than just an update: the new BMW brand identity symbolizes the mobility of the future.

To what extent are the brand changes reflected in the new logo?

BMW is becoming a relationship brand. The new communication logo reflects openness and clarity,” comments Jens Thiemer, Senior Vice President, Customer Service, and Brand BMW. – With this new transparent design, we are inviting our customers to become part of the BMW world more than ever before. In addition, the new design meets the challenges and opportunities of the digital age. The visual restraint and graphic design allow us to adapt flexibly to the wide variety of points of contact in future communications, both online and in the real world. An additional communication logo symbolizes the relevance and relevance of the brand for mobility and driving pleasure in the future

Jens Thiemer, Senior Vice President, Customer Service and Brand at BMW

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