Audi is one of the leading and premium automotive companies in the world. For more than a century, it has been a leader in technological advancement and creative design in the automobile industry. Audi cars offer outstanding performance, luxury, and extraordinary interior design, with their cars that are equipped with high speed, comfort, safety, and sophistication.
The German auto manufacturer is known for its four rings logo, which reveals its roots as the amalgamation of four different companies. How did the Audi emblem evolve through the years? Learn about it here.
Evolution of the Audi Emblem
Audi was established in 1909 when August Horch found the company and named it “Audi,” a Latin translation of “Horch.” Horch is a mechanical engineer who founded his own business: August Horch and Cie. With this company, he built two-cylinder and four-cylinder cars. In 1909, he left his own company due to differences of opinions with the board of directors and founded Audi.
In 1910, Audi’s first car entered the market. They garnered attention with its three consecutive victories in the International Austrian Alpine Rally between 1912 and 1914, which is one of the most challenging rallies of its time.
During its initial days, Audi’s logo featured an upside-down equilateral triangle with a stylized numerical number one, representing a gearshift elevating from behind.
Due to the global recession that started in 1929, the demand for cars plummeted. Four car companies, including Audi, who have been successful up to that point, ran into financial difficulties. The solution was to merge all together, which was initiated by the state bank of Saxony. The Auto Union AG was born, the second-largest car manufacturer in Germany.
The logo of the union of the four companies featured four interlocking rings, symbolizing the four car manufacturers based in the German state of Saxony. Auto Union AG was a merger between the four companies that included Audi, Horch, Wanderer, and DKW.
Wanderer originated as a bicycle repair shop, which later on built motorcycles and small cars. DKW was one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers of their time and started building automobiles in 1928, just a year before the Depression started.
After the merger, the four brands were assigned to handle a specific portfolio as part of the whole Auto Union AG. DKW was assigned to deal with motorcycles and small cars, Wanderer was to work on midsize cars, Horch was to deal with top-end luxury cars, and Audi would make deluxe midsize cars. All these brands were proud of being topnotch in the manufacturing business as they employ the latest engineering technologies.
With the amalgamation of these four car companies, logo designs became unified into one by the four interlocking rings, with each ring containing the logo of the four companies. This logo represented the unity and cooperation that the brand stands for and believes in. This logo lasted until 1949.Eventually, the logos of the four companies were eliminated from inside the rings and was substituted with the phrase “Auto Union.”
Later on, the brand name Audi took center stage, and the Auto Union name was dropped. The Audi emblem first appeared in black, then in red. By 1978, a red oval with white “Audi” lettering characterized the brand identity.How did Auto Union become simply Audi? That’s a complex story. But here’s the abridged version: Auto Union produced cars, vans, and motorcycles after World War II, but it experienced financial and labor problems in the mid-1950s. In 1958, Daimler-Benz bought Auto Union, but it encountered even more financial troubles. By 1964, the company was sold to Volkswagen. Shortly after VW took over, Auto Union began selling cars under the Audi name. In 1969, VW acquired another carmaker, NSU, so the company then became Audi NSU Auto Union AG. That same year, the logo was changed to “Audi NSU” in white print on a black rectangular background. The company went by an unwieldy name until 1985, until it was condensed to Audi AG.
When the company’s name was shortened to Audi in 1985, they once again concentrated on the four interlacing rings – this time in 3D – with a red Audi name underneath. The resemblance of the four rings to the Olympic rings was noticed by some, and the International Olympic Committee instituted a legal action against Audi. The organization believes that the resemblance of the logo to that of the Olympic rings cannot be a coincidence but a planned-out design. The verdict was not in their favor, and Audi was relieved since they don’t have to make any changes to their logo or pay compensation to the Olympic Committee.
But despite the verdict in favor of Audi, the majority of theories about the origin of the Audi logo says that the real inspiration was the five rings of the Olympics.During the company’s 100th anniversary in 2009, the Audi logo was again redesigned. Nothing significant was changed, except that the four rings were more joined and in a better interlocking appearance than before. There were also minimal changes in print, size, and color. The logo was created to sign “VorsprungDurchTechnik,” which means “Progress through Technologies.” The font was standardized to appear simple yet modern. This new look for the logo reflects a message from Audi to the employees and customers about rendering more effective and innovative designs.
The logo consists of four three-dimensional overlapping rings that appear more sharp-cut with a polished chromium look. It’s designed to look like they were made from reflective metal. The logo, signifying the 1932 fusion of four companies, symbolizes strength and maturity. The logo also signifies the efforts of the automaker to strengthen their ties with their clients and increase the loyalty, efficiency, and superiority of the brand.
The shiny, silver color of the Audi logo represents high technology, modernization, and the power of the brand identity. It also relates to the glamour and elegance that the Audi car models exude.
The logo represents Audi, one of the most recognizable, respected, and admired automotive companies in the world. In 2015, Audi got involved in an emission scandal that tainted the brand image of the company. However, it still stood firm and true to what it stood for.In 2017, Audi made a move from 3D to 2D. The recognizable 3D interlocking rings was flattened. This decision was made because logos need to look good not only on paper and in actual but also online. The trend was towards simplicity, so Audi and many other brands transformed their logos into two-dimensional versions.