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Audi Logo – Meaning and History of Audi Emblem

Audi logo is among the most well-known and desirable ones in the automotive industry. The German automotive brand is into designing, producing and marketing premium luxury vehicles. As a brand with a rich heritage of more than 100 years, Audi has been part of several ups and downs, including the discontinuation of the brand altogether. Accordingly, Audi emblem has also evolved over the last century and the current Audi logo has an interesting history and meaning attached to it.

Audi AG Information
Founded 16 July 1909
Founder August Horch
Headquarters Ingolstadt, Germany
Official website
Owner Volkswagen AG
Other brands/JVs Lamborghini
Slogan Vorsprung durch Technik

Audi’s current logo is a classy one with four interlocking circles. As such, Audi emblem depicts a merger of four automakers – Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer. Out of these four, Audi and Horch brands traced their history directly to August Horch.

Horch’s Troubled first innings

The history and evolution of Audi is nothing short of a roller coaster ride. After working with Karl Benz for nearly three years, August Horch went on to establish A. Horch & Cie. in Cologne in November 1899 with his business partner Salli Herz. Eventually, the business moved to one of the major industrial centers Zwickau in May 1904 and named Horch & Cie. Motorwagenwerke AG.

Audi Logo Meaning: Latin translation of Horch

As fate had it, differences came up between the key officials (it appears to be a norm at the time, even Henry Ford struggled) and August Horch decided it was time to leave the company and start afresh. Quite naturally, he named the new company August Horch Automobilwerke GmbH but this didn’t go well with the management of the previous company. After the Supreme Court agreed that the new name is sounding too similar to the previous one, Horch was forced to think of a new name.

Audi Old Logo 1909

He was brainstorming with his business friends Paul Fikentscher and his nephew Franz Fikentscher at the latter’s apartment. While they were discussing, Franz’s son was studying Latin in the same room and noticed that Horch (which means hear or listen) is called Audiatur in Latin and came up with a suggestion to name the new company Audi. It was a brilliant solution and welcomed by all and thus, the company was renamed Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau (it was subsequently renamed to Audiwerke AG Zwickau in 1915).

However, the logo of the company was nothing like the one we see today. It consisted the name Audi written in a black inverted triangle and the number 1 on the top of the equilateral triangle. The numerical representation depicted a gearshift elevating from behind. It is noteworthy that while the logo was underwent a complete overhaul over the years, the automaker retained (for a long time) the way Audi is written, including the font.

Auto Union and the four ring logo

The four top-notch companies continued their separate journey until they were brought together under a common name of Auto Union AG in 1932. Making it possible was Danish industrial and DKW-owner Jørgen Rasmussen who had acquired majority stake in Audiwerke AG in 1928. Following the merger of the four companies and a simultaneous painful reorganization by Saxony Regional Bank which had heavily invested in Rasmussen’s businesses, Auto Union AG was established.

By this time, August Horch had left administration of Audi, although he remained as a member of the board of trustees and also served on the board of Auto Union. This was the time when the combined entity chose to go for the four interlocked circles with individual company logos inside each ring. Auto Union Logo 1932

It is not clear who/what was the inspiration behind the idea of the interlinked circles but it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the central theme behind the logo was of unity, equity and cooperation.

In later years, the emblems of the constituent automakers were dropped to give way to the four rings with “AUTO UNION” written across the circles. Finally, this writing was also dropped in favor of just the four rings, leading to the closest iteration to the current Audi logo with a clear meaning.

Auto Union Logo

Court case – Audi copied Olympics logo?

Not surprisingly, the Audi emblem looks like inspired by the Olympic rings and the Olympic Committee eventually dragged the company to International Trademark Court in 1995. As we know now, the court ruled in favor of Audi so no changes were required in Audi emblem.

The final iteration to Audi symbol was made in 2009, to mark the iconic automaker’s 100th birthday. Thankfully, no radical changes were made to the visual identity of the German brand except making the circles look more joined together. Chrome is extensively used in cars and Audi is no exception with a healthy dose of silver lending a bright, modern and sophisticated look to the logo.

Audi Logo

In its eventful journey of more than 100 years, the company has seen quite a number of developments including ownership changes to Daimler-Benz and then to Volkswagen. Some of these developments even threatened its existence such as move from East to West Germany and the emission scandal. Nevertheless, the automaker has not only survived the odds but also thrived over the last century. Currently, it is among the leading premium OEMs along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW.




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