Today, we continue our series on the discovery of automotive logos. After France, we go to Japan to discuss the Toyota brand and symbol. What do the different circles in the logo mean? What exactly is the meaning and history of the Toyota logo? This is exactly what we will see in the next few paragraphs.
In the 1860s, Sakichi Toyoda created Toyota. Originally, this Japanese company was called Toyoda, in reference to the founder's surname. The company created looms that were soon automated and motorized.
Toyoda then experienced great growth and the company opened two factories, one of which was seven times larger than the other. After exporting their machines to customers around the world, the founder's son Kiichiro Toyoda took over the company. In 1933, he seized the opportunity to get into the automobile business. At that time, only Ford, General Motors, and some foreign brands were established in Japan. During the Second World War, Toyota gained a lot of experience manufacturing numerous trucks and vehicles for the Japanese army. After the war, the Japanese company experienced significant financial difficulties, but their situation eventually improved. Today, Toyota is one of the best-selling and most lucrative car brands on the market.
When the Toyoda family decided to start manufacturing motor vehicles, they needed a logo. Toyota's first logo, at that time called Toyoda, was a badge-type logo. The chosen shape, which resembled a diamond, represented simplicity, but above all the reliability of the brand. The company name was displayed in a sans-serif font. It should be noted that Toyota then decided to use uppercase Roman letters and not Japanese characters for their first logo.
As we mentioned earlier, American companies had already been established in Japan when Toyota decided to build vehicles. Is this why Toyota opted for colors opposite of the Ford logo? Toyota's first symbol was the combination of black and red. According to the meaning of the colors, red is associated with passion and energy, but also with Japanese culture. On the other hand, black represents class and elegance.
Soon after the creation of their first logo, the Japanese company decided to change their name and brand image. In 1936, Toyoda became Toyota, because a study showed that Toyota would be simpler to pronounce and more easily remembered. As for the new logo, it was thanks to a contest that it was chosen. The circular shape represented the brand in reference to the flag of Japan and the sun, which is culturally significant. The logo also included letters in Japanese Katakana. The letter d being changed to t came from the fact that in this form of writing, the word takes only 8 strokes to write, which is a sign of luck.
As well, according to the symbolism of shapes, the use of circles in logos represents completeness, community, and unity.
In the following years, a new logo would appear and would be attached to the cars of this brand. In a much simpler way, Toyota then chose to have a wordmark logo, a logo that was only of the name of the company. Toyota would then be written in black Times New Roman capital letters on a white background. It was a simple and neutral logo.
Designers ended up keeping the same template but changed the font to one that looked like Sole Sans Extended or classic Helvetica. The serifs of the previous version disappeared.
At the end of the 70's, it was a return to their roots in terms of color. The red color returned, and the name became more readable, as they decided to space the letters apart a little more.
For Toyota's 50th anniversary in 1989, a new symbol appeared for the brand. With the same writing, there was a new red symbol made up of 3 ellipses representing speed and movement. Also, the inner ellipses, represented the "T" of Toyota. If you look closely, you will also see all the letters of the brand in this symbol. Toyota then switched from a signature logo to a combined logo. The symbol could then be used alone on the front of vehicles, or with the name of the company. This made the logo more versatile.
Finally in the 2000s, red disappeared in part to make way for the monochrome side of the iconic emblem. Silver represents sophistication and creativity. Many brands have moved to monochrome and the use of gray in the new millennium.
In 2020, we witnessed a minor redesign of the logo. The logo was still monochrome but in 2D. If this was a redesign, it was not because of a trend, but for technological simplicity. It was easier to use these types of logos on the web. The company also decided to create their own font called Toyota Type, which is a custom sans-serif typeface.
Over the years, Toyota has bought various brands such as Lexus, Scion, or Daihastu (brands that are mainly known in Japan). As well, depending on the model, they decided to add a distinctive sign and visual identity. We see a circle in different versions of the logos of Hino, Lexus or Scion. Indeed, the circle remains the heart of the company's branding.
The history of Toyota's logos can certainly help you create your own. First, whether it was for their first logo or the second, this car brand was strongly inspired by their country to create their visual identity. Even today, red, a color associated with Japan, is used in the company's brand image. In addition, it is important not to copy your competitors if you want to create a unique logo. This is exactly what Toyota did by opting for a color palette very different from those of American brands.
Then, Toyota knew how to play with shapes and contours to create some of their logos. The circle is often used in the automotive field, but by combining them, they have managed to create an emblem that is recognized all over the world. Finally, like Toyota, don't be afraid to redesign your logo if necessary. A redesign can be helpful if you want to break into new international markets, introduce revolutionary products, or just simplify a logo that is too busy. Remember that the main trend right now for logos is minimalism.
In conclusion, as you can see, Toyota is a company that has been able to adapt over the years. Whether by changing their name or by creating several types of logos, it is with ambitious choices that this car company has been able to carve out a place for themselves among the major manufacturers. Now that you know the meaning of the Toyota logo, do you know what the circles in the Audi logo represent? Automotive brands have no choice but to have strong brand images given the competition in this industry.