One of the most effective advertising platforms is on four wheels. “The car is a moving billboard,” said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst for AutoTrader. “The logos on it allow you to identify it and have some perception of what it stands for.”
What it stands for is a lot more than marketing. Even a simple letter can be fraught with meaning, such as the H in Hyundai allegedly symbolizing two people shaking hands. A basic word wrapped in a blue oval can be worth billions: Ford pledged its iconic logo as collateral along with other assets in 2006 to secure $23.5 billion in loans and avoid a government bailout.
Some logos are just cool, like the pouncing Jaguar or Lamborghini’s raging bull or the man being birthed from a snake in Alfa Romeo, and others are part of a symbolic system that transcends language borders to evoke brand identity in a global marketplace, such as the circular headlights and seven-slotted grille as the face of the Jeep brand.
Consistency is key. “The logos and design cues establish what the brand is,” Krebs said. “A company that consistently changes those isn’t clear on its mission.”
Here’s a look at the most compelling and mysterious of automotive logos.