• Jan 10, 2010
It turns out that not even BMW's spokespeople know that its Roundel emblem wasn't inspired by a spinning propeller. It's a common misconception, one that's finally been cleared up by BMW spokesman Tom Plucinsky, who explained that the company used to think its recognizable logo was tied to its aeronautical history. Plucinsky's colleague Dave Buchko had initially told the The New York Times that the logo was intended as a stylized image of a spinning propeller before being corrected by Anne Schmidt-Possiwal of the BMW Museum in Munich. To his credit, Buchko did correct the error himself once the real story came to light.

So what's the real origin? It turns out the blue-and-white logo was used in a 1929 ad that placed roundels in the rotating propellers of an airplane. It's easy to see where the confusion came from. The blue and white quadrants at the heart of the logo are actually intended to signify the state colors of Bavaria, and this isn't the first time the logo's origin has been examined in detail – historians have traced the logo's evolution from the Rapp Motorenwerke all the way through today.

[Source: The New York Times | Photo: BMWClub.ro]


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  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I was told about the Bavarian flag colors and BMW when I was a teen. The German half of my family originated in the Bavarian Palatinate. But later in several auto books I read the spinning propellor story and decided my German relatives were just repeating misunderstood history. Now I'm back to my original understanding of the flag colors from a recent brief video where a BMW guy explained their misunderstanding and the connection with the blue and white Bavarian flag. The flag story makes sense given how many early euro car makers incorporated their local coats of arms into the company logo. Many other manufacturers from potters to iron works did the same.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So what you're saying is...

      The logo wasn't inspired by airplane propellers, it was just randomly designed so they could put it on one.

      The difference between that and being "inspired from" airplane propellers is so small I can't believe my brain even decided to think about it this long.
      • 5 Years Ago
      the BMW logo was used long befor they put it into a spinning propeller...

      some facts..

      1. the blue and white represent the color of Bavaria...
      2. orginal the Bavarian flag are blue and white rhombs
      3. the time they created the logo in 1917 it was forbidden to use national colors in commercials so they took the color and turned the rhombs into quaters put the black ring from the Rapp Motorenwerke around it..they replaced the "Rapp Motor" letters with BMW
      4. the BMW logo as a rotor was first time used in 1929 12 years after the BMW logo was created. The world wide crisis in the 20´s forced BMW to make a huge commercial campaing for their airplane engines because the world wide commercial plane market was completely down during that time. There they made the pictures of the airplane with a spinning BMW logo ... and for a unknown reason the mytos was born that this was the birthplace of the BMW logo
      • 5 Years Ago
      I think that its kind of cool that the logo is also the same as the engineering symbol for center of gravity...especially because I read that BMW will spend 10 times as much money reducing the weight of the top of the car as they will the bottom for the purpose of lowering the CG. I'm sure this is unintentional, but kind of cool if you're a nerd like me.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Who said it can't represent a propeller AND incorporate the flag colors at the same time?

        • 5 Years Ago
        That's what I was thinking.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Odd that BMW's own people didn't know this when it's pretty easy to infer. BMW stands for "Bayerische Motoren Werke," which translates as Bavarian Motor Works, and the Bavarian flag is mainly blue and white. Not a huge leap.
        • 5 Years Ago
        1: people aren't that familiar with a german canton/province's flag... when Germany's national flag is usually what represents the whole of Germany to the rest of the world.

        2: even if they knew that blue and white were the colors from the bavarian flag... there aren't multiple quadrants, just one. And it obviously bears resemblance to a propeller in motion, being circular around the quadrant center.

        3: BMW has a history of building aero engines, and obviously used the similarity of their logo to an airscrew propeller, in their own marketing materials.

        It isn't hard to infer that the graphic representation of the roundel was inferred from the geometry of the moving propeller, AND the bavarian flag colors rather than the propeller inference coming afterward.

        The roundel has only one quadrant of reversed blue and white, rather than a smaller-segment reversed checkerboard pattern of those colors? The Bavarian flag has a checkerboard pattern as the field of the flag, with a crest in the center.

        It is what it is... and the history is good to know, but it doesn't really change much market perception of the brand now, whether the propeller inference was first, or later.
      • 5 Years Ago
      WOW i feel like nothing is the truth anymore.. For my whole life, being a automitive guy, when people asked me what the BMW logo was i told them it was from a spinning propeller. But i have been lying to everyone and i feel like a D-bag....lol
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought this was common understanding. Seriously who could misinturpret the symbol.
        • 5 Years Ago
        i guess people outside of Europe are not aware of the Bavarian flag.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Why is this news? BMW fans already knew this.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I thought this discrepancy was resolved years ago... perhaps I just take knowledge as this for granted.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ..but I wish Saab's "jet" could still fly.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +1 if you're talking about Saabs potential fate.

        Saab will always be 'born from jets' whether they survive or not. I've never heard a more appropriate slogan for a car.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The irony is that SAAB continues to produce fighter jets, it's just the GM auto division with the same name that is shutting down...

        Have a look at their Gripen fighter:
        http://www.gripen.com/en/index.htm
      • 5 Years Ago
      was the spokesman by any chance from the north american branch? because i'm sure everyone in germany knows the symbol signifies the bavarian flag..hence the title Bayerische Motor Werk.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The M is for Motoren.

        - Your local American
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