Understand the Symbolism of the Toyota Logo


Toyota is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. When people think of the car brand, things like quality, reliability, and technological innovation come to mind. Toyota has a rich and deep history of producing high-quality cars for generations.

Toyota’s three-circle logo is one of the easiest to recognize automotive logos around the world. It might look very simple, but the Japanese automaker has put a lot of thought and hidden meanings into it. Want to understand the different symbolisms on the Toyota logo? Keep on reading!

Background of Toyota’s Logo

Since Toyota is a well-known brand seen on the front of millions of vehicles on the road, as well as in ads on websites, TV, and newspapers – it’s safe to say that nearly everyone can recognize its emblem.

Some corporate logos are self-explanatory, while some are more symbolic than literal. Others were a product of generations of redesigning, rebranding, and tweaking until it becomes a design that’s something else entirely. For Toyota, its logo wasn’t always the distinctive oval symbol that adorns all its vehicles today.

The current logo was only introduced in 1989, which was nearly 50 years after the founding of the company. There was inconsistency with the spelling of the company name during the first half-century. Originally, the company name was spelled “Toyoda” – the name of the company’s founding family, but it has evolved into “Toyota.” Eventually, many products were carrying one label or another. So, the owners found a need to bring consistency and identity standards for the company.

It took five years to develop the current elliptical emblem used by Toyota, which was revealed on Toyota’s 50th anniversary. The company desired to create a logo that will establish a strong identity for Toyota, as it became popular in markets outside of Japan.

The newly designed Toyota logo made its debut on the Celsior luxury model released in October 1989, and since then, more models were proudly displaying the new logo. It was an unprecedented emblem of its time as it was clearly perceptible both head-on and in a rear-view mirror. It was quickly recognized as the worldwide symbol for Toyota due to its distinctively strong visual impact that makes it stand out from other automobiles.

The Story Behind the Company Name

The name “Toyoda” originated from the family name of the founder, Sakichi Toyoda. The early vehicles produced by the car manufacturer originally sold with a Toyoda emblem. In 1936, the company held a public competition to design a new logo, which led to a change in the brand name to “Toyota.”

Why change? First, “Toyota” represents a voiceless consonant sound in the Japanese language, which is clearer than voiced consonants like in “Toyoda.” Also, the number of strokes to write the Japanese characters became a factor. In their culture, eight strokes are believed to be connected to wealth and good fortune, and “Toyota” in Japanese contains exactly eight strokes. This change also indicated the company’s expansion from being a small, independent company to a multi-national, corporate enterprise.

The Meaning Behind the Toyota Symbol

Toyota’s logo includes three ovals combined in a symmetrical and horizontal configuration. The two perpendicular ovals inside the larger oval represent “T” for Toyota, “t” for trust between the brand and the consumer, as well as the steering wheel that represents the car itself. Additionally, others point out that the logo resembles the eye of a needle, as Toyota’s original parent company produced sewing machines.

The outer oval symbol represents the world embracing Toyota, which perfectly conveys its globalization efforts and technological innovation that made the car brand known and available around the world.

Each oval is contoured with different thicknesses of strokes, similar to the brush art known in Japanese calligraphy. The overlapping ovals inside the larger oval also represent the heart of the company and the customers, symbolizing their mutually beneficial relationship and trust. The three ovals represent the cultural aspects of the company: freedom, progress, and team spirit.

Meanwhile, every space in the background within the logo reveals the infinite values that Toyota conveys to its customers: value beyond expectation, superb quality, safety innovation and integrity, the joy of driving, the environment, and social responsibility.

The logo’s main color is usually red and white, though metallic gray and blue are also used. The symmetrical layout of the emblem can be recognized both head-on and in a rear-view mirror.

Does the Toyota Symbol Spell Toyota?

The most obvious shape that can be seen in the logo is the letter “T.” However, every letter of the name “Toyota is actually hidden in the logo. Look closely, and you can trace out the letters T, O, Y, O, T, and A from the emblem. Brilliant, right?

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