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Auto Companies are Simplifying their Logos

Toyota, GM, BMW, and Nissan all recently updated their logos. Volkswagon and Kia did too. While Toyota dropped their name from below their familiar symbol, BMW went from a 3D look to a basic, flat design. GM also chose to make a change, but they opted for a more modern look, doing the opposite and leaving the older, flat design behind. Nissan on the other hand went basic, like BMW did, streamlining their name. Volkswagon moved away from their current 3D design, and Kia went for a completely new look focused on only their name and dropped the outline oval they previously used.


With clean digital designs, a solid logo offers a fast, visual symbol that is instantly recognizable. But why would iconic brands make the change? Why not stick with what works?


  • GM wanted a new feel to go with their vision of an electric-vehicle future. They felt the airy, lighter blue would better represent that.

  • BMW slimmed down their fancier 3D logo to focus on their customers with a new feel of openness. It’s perfect for digital design and offers a clean take on the logo.

  • According to KIA themselves, “The new logo features ‘symmetry’, ‘rhythm’ and ‘rising’ elements that embody Kia’s confidence and commitment to customers.”

  • Nissan rid themselves of the heavier, outdated metallic look and focused on a simpler design while maintaining their legacy feel.

  • VW’s minimalist design was freshened up to showcase a future, clean and simple look which is airier and lighter, as per the Volkswagon news center.

  • Toyota opted to drop their name and go wordless, knowing that their logo is immediately recognizable on its own.

When a company makes a big change, like reshaping an iconic logo, there’s often a feeling of renewal. The future of automobiles is changing rapidly, with electric vehicles and driverless cars being eyed for expanded growth. Sometimes a company changes to modernize a look, while others are looking for a sharp rebrand to reshape customer’s opinions.



The Changing Shape of Things

Everything from shape to color to typography goes into designing a logo. By streamlining a logo like BMW and Nissan did, you recognize the symbol, but by removing the trendy 3D look that was popular a few years back and going back to basics, you instantly show that you’re classic. You don’t need trendy looks, metallic, or shiny new toys. Like they say, what’s old is new again, and sometimes the basics are all you need.


In today’s digital age, it also makes sense for these companies to have images that are easier to use clearly across multiple channels. One thing you might notice is that while most of the companies didn’t change their shape or style, KIA did.


KIA stripped the outline and shape away, almost like it’s saying, we’re here. The brand says, “…Kia’s ambitions is to establish a leadership position in the future mobility industry by revamping nearly all facets of its business.” The design was created to look like a signature.

By evolving and growing, a company is confidently showing their customers that they are modern and keeping up with the times.


We all want to believe a company we buy into is current. A quick way to make this transition is to tweak the imagery, so that it’s familiar, yet slightly changed. As you’ll notice, none of the automakers did anything drastic to their logo. They’ve worked hard to solidify their brand image so that you immediately recognize them upon sight.


It’s not about confusing the customer. Rather a refresh could be a new commitment to their customers that they want to make known. It could be to update an older style, and it could be that they are heading in a new direction and think that a new design will better represent their future plans.


What do you think of the new logo designs of these popular automakers?


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