The BMW Roundel

by AnotherClioBeliever

You may be surprised what the alternating quadrants of the BMW logo stand for. Link.

The BMW Roundel, one of the world’s most recognized and revered commercial symbols,celebrates its 90th anniversary this month.In July 1917 Franz Josef Popp registered thename Bayerische Motoren Werke, thus distancingthe new company from the Rapp Motorenwerke.This was a necessary move if the new companywas to find new clients and prosper. The name wasregistered but as yet there was no new logo…It was on 5 October 1917 that the BMW trademarkwas registered with the Imperial Trade MarkRoll under No. 221388. It featured the circular design of the Rapp logo but with the letters BMWat the top of the outer ring. The inner featuredquadrants in the Bavarian Free State colours ofblue and white – but in the opposed order – as itwas illegal to use national symbols in a commercialtrademark.

The design was not in any way connectedwith aircraft engines or propellers. The idea thatthe blue and white had anything to do with spinningpropellers comes from a 1929 advertisement,which featured aircraft with the image of theRoundel in the rotating propellers. This advertisementcame at the beginning of the GreatDepression, which coincided with BMW acquiringthe license to build Pratt & Whitney radial aircraftengines. The advertising department used theRoundel and BMW heritage in an attempt toBMW Roundel Celebrates 90 YearsA Roundel Myth is Dispelledincrease sales of the new radial motors.The idea of the spinning propellers was givengreater credence in an article by WilhelmFarrenkopf in a BMW journal of 1942. This alsofeatured an image of an aircraft with a spinningRoundel. These were powerful images and thelegend of the spinning propeller was born.The logo was registered on 5 October but itwas in limited use prior to this date. On 1 October1917 Franz Josef Popp was given a certificate confirminghis appointment as General Manager and itwas adorned with the now familiar BMW Roundel.The basic structure of the Roundel hasremained the same over 90 years but there havebeen subtle changes. 

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