In the world of car branding, there has been boring logos, lazy, text-based logos, complicated logos, and other run-off-the-mill logos. And then, there’s the Chevrolet bowtie. For hundreds of years, the emblem has become synonymous with Chevrolet’s brand of American automotive ingenuity. It stands for the heritage and vision of Chevy vehicles. The logo has been existing for more than 100 years, and during its 100th anniversary, an enigma that has never been resolved was rekindled. Where did the logo really come from, and what is the symbolism behind it? Learn more about it here.
Chevrolet Logo Origin
The Chevrolet bowtie emblem first appeared in 1913, when it was introduced by the company’s co-founder William Durant on the Chevrolet H-2 Royal Mail and the H-4 Baby Grand. The bowtie was centered in front of both models.
Where did Durant get the inspiration for the Chevrolet bowtie? The version of how the logo came to be is widely known. The long-accepted story, stated by Durant himself, is inspired by a wallpaper that he saw in a Parisian hotel.
This was the story, according to The Chevrolet Story in 1961, an official publication issued to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary:
“It originated in Durant’s imagination when, as a world traveler in 1908, he saw the pattern marching off into infinity as a design on wallpaper in a French hotel. He tore off a piece of the wallpaper and kept it to show friends, with the thought that it would make a good nameplate for a car.”
However, his own family tells the story much differently. According to his daughter Margery Durant in her 1929 book My Father, Durant sometimes doodled nameplate logos on napkins at their dinner table. She wrote, “I think it was between the soup and the fried chicken one night that he sketched out the design that is used on the Chevrolet car to this day.”
And perhaps the most compelling version of the Chevrolet emblem’s origin story is that of Durant’s wife, Catherine. In a 1968 interview, Catherine said the bowtie logo originated from a hot springs vacation in 1912. According to her, while Durant was reading a newspaper in their hotel room, he spotted a design and exclaimed that this could be a suitable emblem for his car brand. Unfortunately, Mrs. Durant did not clarify what the motif was or how it was used.
Later on, a historian and editor of The Chevrolet Review named Ken Kaufmann tried to search for the validity of that claim. A 1911 edition of The Constitution newspaper shows an advertisement of the southern Compressed Coal Company for “Coalettes,” a refined fuel product for tires. The Coalettes logo has a strikingly similar bowtie. This seems to be the likeliest explanation since the ads were running around the exact time Durant released the new Chevrolet logo.
Chevrolet’s first use of the bowtie logo appeared in the October 2, 1913 edition of The Washington Post with the words, “Look for this nameplate” above the emblem.
If that still isn’t believable, another story says the logo is a nod to the Swiss flag as the company’s muse for its successful badge. Since the company was named after the racer Louis Chevrolet from Switzerland, some believe that the bowtie is a play on his home country’s flag.
Symbolism of the Chevrolet Logo
While we may never know the true origin of the Chevrolet logo, the world still appreciates it and the vehicles it has adorned. The iconic gold badge remains fashionable and stylish, enthusiastic, and sporty. The logo has changed little throughout history and is often described as a cross in some countries and as a bowtie in North America. However, despite the two intersecting patterns, the logo has little to do with both a cross and a bowtie. The horizontal parallelepiped overlaps with a square to form a cross-like figure. It’s painted in gold and yellow colors.
Since the Chevrolet logo’s shape has remained intact since 1914, it gives the brand an image of consistency to the customers over the decades. On earlier versions of the logo, the horizontal bar used to bear the company’s name and is designed as a rhomboid.
The Chevrolet logo is designed in gold and yellow colors decorated with a silver border. The colors stand out to represent enthusiasm and strength.