The Complete History of the Volkswagen Logo

Volkswagen is a renowned car manufacturer that was established in 1937 by the German Labour Front. Today, the company is the globe’s largest automaker and one of the most successful automobile companies.

Through the years, the brand has seen many updates to its marketing and logo design. While there have been several changes, many held a similar theme. 

Let’s take a look at the brand’s history and how they have arrived at the logo we see today.

About Volkswagen

Immediately after its opening, Volkswagen received its original name, which consists of two pillars- “volks,” meaning people, and “wagen,” meaning car. It’s truly the “people’s car.”

But where did this well-known brand come from?

Volkswagen has become a household name in the automotive industry. It was born on May 28th, 1937, in Germany, but back then, it did business under the name Gesellschaft Zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH. Quite a mouthful for non-German speakers.

The story goes that in 1933 Adolf Hitler came up with the idea in an auto shop in Berlin to make an affordable car to support the development of the Autobahn superhighway and encourage leisure amongst Germans.

After Hitler became the German leader, he asked Ferdinand Porsche, who was working in Austria as an automobile engineer, to create a budget-friendly car for Germans. Because Porsche was an Australian citizen, Hitler wanted him to change his nationality. You might think this was a dealbreaker, but Porsche changed his citizenship from Czechoslovak to the National Socialist German Workers Party.

The odd round shape of the original Volkswagen car came about from a sketch developed by Bela Barenyi in 1934, who was working for a French car magazine. And later, in 1938, the company decided it was time to shorten that name and switched it to Volkswagenwerk GmbH, with a logo that has the Nazi flag, which was inspired by the swastika.

The symbol was meant to allude to an old Nordic glyph, Ginfaxi, which ensured victory every time they went to war. The early advertisements promoted Kraft Durch Freude, meaning strength through joy, and depicted peaceful people in the car on a holiday.

During WWII, many factories were destroyed, including those that manufactured Volkswagen. After the war came to an end, the British soldiers took over leadership, and Major Ivan Hirst was in charge of the factory.

The Volkswagen factory was restored, machines repaired, and a new era of the company began. In 1945, several machine parts were unearthed from the post-war rubble, and the parts were used to make over two thousand vehicles.

Britain increased vehicle manufacturing the following year, and production reached 10,000 automobiles. The company name was now officially the Volkswagen we know today. However, the British army wanted to release leadership and management to another auto manufacturer after the war ended. Still, popular car makers, including Ford and Fiat, didn’t want to accept the company in exchange for nothing.

So, in 1949, the British army decided to leave control of the company to the German government.

The VW cars got new shiny paint jobs and a comfortable interior. You could find models in pastel green, Bordeaux red, or medium brown. The general director of Volkswagen, Mr. Rieger, said the new paint job symbolized peacetime after such a historical war.

The factory was also improved, and new models were introduced to the public. With this increased production, the company also started exporting cars to other European countries. Volkswagen also started recruiting new employees who would help the company achieve this new vision.

Volkswagen first sold its cars in the US in 1949, and you could get two units in America at first. Later in 1955, Volkswagen of America was formed to standardize sales and service. With that, the Type 1 Volkswagen Beetle production increased significantly and would over the years, reaching a total of one million in 1955.

By 1955, sales warranted building a Volkswagen plant on Scarborough’s Golden Mile in 1957. It offered administration, showrooms, service, repairs, and parts. 

Volkswagen became a successful business and helped to restore Germany’s economy, which had been greatly affected by the war. The new jobs improved their living standards. And the company began to expand, including another plant that opened in Mexico in the 1960s.

Also in 1960, the name changed to Volkswagenwerk AG, and sales skyrocketed throughout the 1960s, peaking as we approached the 70s thanks partly to the famous advertising campaigns by New York agency Doyle, Dane, & Bernbach.

What was once associated with war, the Volkswagen name and vision changed. They introduced the Beetle and the T1 bus and were now pressing forward to become symbols of peace and love.

American exports, innovative advertising, and a growing reputation for reliability allowed the brand to surpass the production records of even the Ford Model T. On February 17th, 1972, the 15,007,034th Beetle was sold, and Volkswagen claimed the world production record for the most-produced single make of car in history. By 1973, production reached over 16 million.

From there, the company has shown impressive progress and growth, becoming so much more than the manufacturing plant of the Beetle. Now, you’ll see various models, including a new push for electric vehicles that keep up with the growing demand and need for more fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly cars.

Volkswagen’s Logo Over Time

The changes to the Volkswagen logo have been subtle for the most part, though it has departed significantly from the original logo. While this brand may have launched during the beginning of WWII, it’s grown since then, and its logo shows the distance the company has put between itself and those rocky beginnings.

The Original Logo (1937)

The original Volkswagen symbol was a much more complex version of the icon we know today. The letters “V” and “W” still appeared within the logo, with the same positioning of one above the other in a circular frame. It was monochromatic, constructed in simple black and white.

However, there were many components surrounding the circle that represented a cogwheel and a version of the swastika. This logo was created for the original purpose of the cars, which were commissioned by Hilter.

Volkswagen 1939
Image source

The Volkswagen Logo from 1939 to 1945

1939 marked the first significant update to the Volkswagen logo. The Nazi symbolism was removed, and the images were simplified. The cogwheel remained, along with the two stacked letters within the circle. This Volkswagen logo evoked a masculine, bold vibe and continued the monochrome look.

Volkswagen  ads color logo 1945
Image source

Volkswagen Adds Color (1945-1960)

In 1945, another update to the original Volkswagen logo showcased more color and personality. The icon had a retro appeal and included the soft colors of cream and brown paired with a vibrant red. The cogwheel disappeared, but the central letters remained. Going forward, the design would honor those stacked letters throughout all its iterations, and the changes would be mainly to the color and overall shape.

Volkswagen  logo 1948
Image source

1948 – 1960 The Color is Removed

This new logo is a continuation of the old one but was changed with the automotive industry’s growth in Germany. The developers went back to monochrome, again making it black and white. They also thickened the border by connecting the lowest points of the “W” to the inner white circle and moved the “V” closer to the “W.”

Volkswagen logo 1960
Image source

A Square Change 1960-1967

In 1960, Volkswagen’s logo got even more straightforward. A new version of the icon appeared in the same black and white coloring with a square placed around the circular emblem. The square was said to demonstrate stability as the company became an international player and continued to grow.

The monochromatic palette of the Volkswagen logo of this era sought to showcase the power of the brand, one with lasting strength. However, the icon itself would only last seven years.

The Volkswagen Logo from 1967 to 1978

The square disappeared again, and the original Volkswagen logo circle returned. This new version was similar to the one from 1945. However, the minimalist design now included a color update to blue and white.

1978 Volkswagen logo
Image source

The Logo from 1978 to 1989

In 1978, the company changed it again to another version of blue and white. This time they went with a bolder and brighter shade of blue and a solid white.

This logo also showed a slightly modified double framing element around the letters. The “V” from the iconic VW symbol was also a little smaller in this iteration.

1989 Volkswagen  logo
Image source

1989’s Volkswagen Logo

In 1989, the Volkswagen logo changed yet again. It went back to the much lighter version of the blue and white coloring, and the proportions changed slightly. This change was said to be designed to make the logo appear cleaner and more elegant.

1995 Volkswagen logo
Image source

A Darker Update from 1995 to 2000

For a few years, Volkswagen also decided to change the color of the logo to a deeper shade. It was still blue but became a much darker color.

1999 blue and white Volkswagen logo
Image source

1999 – 2000 Some 3D Elements are Added

The logo didn’t change much or look especially different, but some modifications allowed it to appear more three-dimensional for a stylish approach. The big change here was the addition of darker shades that made the white elements stand out more. The letters also looked more elegant with thinner lines in the center.

three dimensional 2000 Volkswagen logo
Image source

The Three Dimensional Logo from 2000 to 2012

In 2000, the Volkswagen logo evolution went the modern route. The company wanted to refresh its image for the new millennium. The modifications showed significant gradient use and helped the logo to look more three-dimensional and dynamic.

A silver tone was added to the white coloring in the palette, and the blue became deeper and a little darker than in the previous version.

2012 updated Volkswagen logo
Image source

2012’s Punch Up to the 3D

In 2012, another version of this logo was introduced, which upped the 3D effect even more. The size was reduced slightly, and the lines of the letters got sharper and bolder for a crisp, professional look. The design is believed to have tried to convey modernism and progress.

The Current Volkswagen Logo Ups the Saturation (2019 – Present) 

In 2019, Volkswagen decided to eliminate the 3D aspects. The image evolved again to create something sleeker with slim lines and a simple color palette. The new Volkswagen logo came along with the launch of the company’s new range of electric cars.

Simple, sophisticated, and a little futuristic, this two-dimensional design was planned to be a stylish yet simple version of the icon that’s perfect for the new age of Volkswagen cars and the penchant for flat 2D logos in the current era.

The company unveiled this logo at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in three versions: white-on-blue combination, blue-on-white, and black-on-white.

Volkswagen Logo Key Elements

While there have been several changes to the logo over the years, there have been consistent elements that the company has chosen to continue using throughout its history. 

1.  The VW

Even from the first iteration, the initials VW have been in the logo design. This abbreviation of Volkswagen is synonymous with the brand, and it’s unlikely we’ll see a departure from using these letters any time soon.

2. The Blue & White Colors

During the second section of the logo’s life, the blue and white coloring became a considerable part of its design. While other colors have been used, we’ve seen some versions of blue and white since 1967. The current blue and white colors are typically variations of the following:

  • Silver lake blue

Hex: #6091C3

RGB: (96, 145, 195)

  • Space cadet blue

Hex: #1F2F57

RGB: (31, 47, 87)

  • Snow

Hex: #FDFAF9

RGB: (31, 47, 87)

  • Dark gray

Hex: #1F2F57

RGB: (31, 47, 87)

3. The Circle

The circle shape of the logo has been a huge part of its design for decades. In some form or another, the VW letters contained in a circular shape have always been present. While it has seen a cog and a square alongside it, the circle is at the core of the logo.


The Volkswagen logo has been pretty consistent throughout its history. While there were significant changes during its first few years, the icon has remained relatively unchanged since 1967, maybe even 1945. 

Today, the logo is a testament to the company’s staying power and the strength of the Volkswagen brand. Though it started under the pressure of the Second World War and its dictator, the brand has grown significantly since then and left its wartime associations in the past, even so far as becoming a symbol of peace and love accepted and used by “hippies” throughout the late 60s and 70s.

Other automobile manufacturers can take notes from Volkswagen’s success and the prominence of their logo throughout the years.