Interested in distinguishing its premium models from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam, BMW is launching a “new” black-and-white logo it will use to market its “flaggschiff” units around the globe. The updated look was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show and will be used for the 7 series and i8 coupe, as well as the forthcoming 8 series coupe, convertible, i8 roadster and X7 SUV.
Rumored to be similar to the cheesy carbon variant of the company’s emblem found in numerous aftermarket Ebay listings, the new logo is essentially the old one, only desaturated into monochrome with the company’s full name — Bayerische Motoren Werke — written out in its entirety. However, there seems to be some confusion as to how the new logo will be used and what its heritage actually entails.
“We have a strong history of 100 years, and we think that’s something we should use,” Hildegard Wortmann, senior vice president of brand BMW, told Automotive News. “It’s a new visual identity [that’s] more involving, more emotional.”
Several outlets have cited the black-and-white emblem as a throwback to an earlier era where BMW used its full name on its physical products. But there is precious little evidence on which to hang that claim. In fact, the company’s earliest motorized vehicles used rounded emblems with a gold monogram and the iconic blue and white logo. The same is true for its aircraft engines.
However, before it was BMW, the company existed as the short-lived Rapp Motorenwerke between 1913 and 1917. Rapp did use its full name on products and also had a completely black horse-head marquis. But it seems unlikely the modern-day brand would draw inspiration from its pre-World War I roots as a way to celebrate 100 years of existence.
Automotive News added some additional clarity against earlier reports from rival outlets, indicating the new luxury branding will be used only in the automaker’s communications activities. Dealerships won’t be required to update any signage or elements of their buildings, a spokesman said. That means you probably won’t be seeing any new badges on cars but plenty, though marketing materials will be emblazoned with BMW’s complete name in grayscale — despite claims to the contrary.
Still, it could certainly happen in the future. BMW is clearly trying to draw a line between the top of its model range and everything below, and this marketing swap is the first step on that mission. While the numeric designations help, Bayerische Motoren Werke may opt to further tweak the branding of its upper echelon. We may see those monochrome emblems affixed to a hood in subsequent years, which wouldn’t be the worst thing imaginable. But they’ll remain the same Bavarian blue and white for now.