In the world of motoring, only a few things evoke the same feeling of quality, luxury, and performance as the BMW logo. For more than a century, BMW has been a pioneer in automobile technology. Their relentless push towards innovation has made them one of the most recognizable brands for most people globally. They pushed the envelope year after year after year. So much so that even in 2020, when most companies saw a massive decrease in profits, BMW remained profitable. They made a strong comeback in the second half and even surpassed their operating profits from the second half of 2019 by 9.8%.
So, to understand why people put their trust in the BMW logo even during one of the worst economic collapses globally, we will need to know the history first.
THE ICONIC BMW LOGO.
When the company was first registered in July 1917, there was no BMW logo, just the name Bayerische Motorenwerke. Their first ad campaign did not feature any logos either. The reason for not having a symbol was that the company had no customers to woo. After all, their main business was supplying aircraft engines to the German Air Force.
In the October of the same year, the BMW logo came into existence as the young firm wanted to solidify its identity. The design was inspired by the old Rapp logo. The firm wanted to represent their home state and thus selected Bavaria’s state colors (white and blue) for the quarters in the inner circle. However, due to the local trademark law at the time, which forbade the use of state coat of arms on commercial logos, they had to use the colors in inverse order.
THE PROPELLER MYTH
Many people believe that the BMW logo depicts an aircraft propeller in the center. Now, we know that it is not the truth as the logo was modeled after Bavarian colors. However, the company is to blame for this misconception here as their ads in 1929 prominently featured the logo overlaid on top of a rotating propeller. At the time, this was done to promote a new aircraft engine while simultaneously reinforcing the company’s identity as an experienced aircraft engine manufacturer during the global economic crisis.
But, even after the propagation of this myth, the company did not do anything to clear the misconception. Instead, they doubled down on it and ran multiple ads with the BMW logo featured on a rotating propeller furthering the association.
AN IMPERFECT HISTORY
BMW was formally established in 1922, or rather, it was rebranded to that name. In reality, the Bayerische Motorenwerke started its life as Rapp Motorenwerke GmbH in 1913. Their primary business at the time was making and maintaining aircraft engines and other aviation-related components. Over time, the company diversified its business and entered the automobile market. This shift also came with a rebranding of the company, and hence BMW was established. The Rapp Motorenwerke logo was changed to the BMW logo, and the company started producing motorcycle engines by the end of World War I.
The decision to make motorcycle engines, however, was not by choice. BMW had to make motorcycle engines to stay afloat. That wasn’t all, though. They also started producing farm equipment, railway brakes, and household items. The first bike from BMW, the R 32, made its public debut in 1923 alongside the BMW logo on its fuel tank.
However, during the 2nd World War, the company’s history was marred when they forced prisoners from concentration camps to produce aircraft engines for the Nazi army. Due to this, all facilities with the BMW logo or any relation with the company were heavily bombed. The remaining facilities in West Germany were barred from producing aircraft or motor vehicles following the war. To survive, the company made pots, pans, and bicycles until 1948. In 1948, they started making motorcycles again, and in 1952 they restarted car production with the BMW 501. By 1955, their car offerings had expanded, and they started producing the Isetta microcar.
A CLOSE CALL WITH BANKRUPTCY.
However, the car business did not pan out so well as the sales of luxury vehicles continued to decline, and profit margins also continued to shrink. The company almost got acquired by the rival Daimler-Benz in 1959. It narrowly escaped bankruptcy after a series of cash infusions by Herbert and Harald Quant, and this investment also ensured that we will be seeing cars with the BMW logo for years to come.
Shortly after that, the company released the BMW 700, which proved to be successful and helped a lot in the company’s financial recovery. In 1962, the company introduced the BMW New Class compact sedans. This line also proved to be very successful and cemented the company’s reputation as a high-end sports car manufacturer.
In the following years, BMW launched other series like the 3 series, compact sedans, 5 series mid-size sedans, 6 series luxury coupes, and finally the 7 series large luxury sedans in 1978. Each of these launches further deepened the appreciation people had for any car bearing the BMW logo. But, BMW did not stop there. Alongside the 7 series, their M division also launched a mid-engine supercar that year, marking BMW’s entry into this segment as well.
THE ROAD TO PRESENT.
After this massive growth, the company grew more confident and acquired the Rover Group in 1994. But, the acquisition did not go as smoothly as they had hoped, and the takeover soon resulted in substantial financial losses. 4 years later, BMW acquired the Rolls Royce company and became the owner of another car brand revered by the people. In 2000, the company had had enough of the losses from the Rover brands and sold off all of them except the Mini brand.
The 2002 Turbo was the first car with a BMW logo to feature the M10 engine – the first mass-produced modern turbocharged petrol engine. The company also jumped into the hybrid vehicle market with their ActiveHybrid 7 in 2010. 3 years later, the BMW i3 city car became their first mass-production electric car in 2013. Today, the company offers a range of vehicles in every segment, both electric and gas-powered.
THE FUTURE AND BEYOND.
The BMW Group is now entering the third phase of its electrification efforts, and soon we will see a lot more EVs with the BMW logo on them. Even though Tesla reigns supreme in this market right now due to their early adoption of this tech and their innovative approach to improving car functionality via software updates. BMW, too, is heading in the same direction with their Neue Klasse approach.
The company also promises that they will no longer be stuck in their old ways regarding software. Under this approach, the company is going to make new and innovative electric powertrains. The new cars will also feature ‘regionalisable technology stacks,’ making it possible for the cars’ functionalities to be customized according to the region. BMW also promises that they will have a digital-first approach that will let the vehicles be individually configured and allow the functionality of individual cars to be easily upgraded via software updates. Maybe this will finally make the Tesla fanboys let go of their QC-issue-laden vehicles and go for a vehicle with the BMW logo on it.
So, when are you going to buy a BMW? Let us know in the comments below!
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