Toyota – Japan’s largest automaker – is also among the world’s leading car companies. The Japanese automaker stands for quality, technological innovation and reliability. Established in 1937, the company has a rich heritage and has seen three major changes in its logos. The current Toyota logo was introduced in October 1989, to commemorate the automaker’s 50 years. There are several theories about Toyota symbol meaning including one that links it to Nagoya.
|Founded||28 August 1937|
|Headquarters||Toyota, Aichi, Japan|
|Slogan||Let’s Go Places|
Toyota emblem was created with a vision to offer a strong and highly recognizable visual identity to the brand. As the automaker was expanding in markets outside of Japan at the time, Toyota symbol was also a message to announce the arrival of the company at the global landscape.
Toyota Symbol Meaning
The combination of three interlocking ovals was the result of an exercise that reportedly took designers nearly 5 years. The three ovals are linked in a horizontally symmetrical layout to make the logo recognizable both head-on and when seen in a rear-view mirror.
The inner two ovals, arranged in a perpendicular fashion, symbolise the heart of the customer and the heart of the company and the overlap represents the mutual trust between the two. The overlap also generates a stylized “T” as a graphical representation of Toyota.
The outer oval, containing the two interlocked ovals, depicts the world increasingly embracing Toyota. It is also noteworthy that all the ellipses are drawn with different stroke thicknesses, pointing to Japanese calligraphy art and culture.
One might be mistaken into assuming that’s all about the logo but that is certainly not the case. Just as white color is made of seven different colors, the background white within Toyota logo represents seven values the brand stands for, namely superb quality, value beyond expectation, the joy of driving, innovation, and integrity in safety, the environment and social responsibility. For some reason, Toyota prefers to call these “infinite values”.
The first vehicle with the new Toyota logo was Celsior luxury sedan which was sold as Lexus in international markets.
The Toyota emblem is a piece of art with all the complex details it conveys. Even though it is easily recognizable, the Toyota logo is quite understated and has not generated the same amount of buzz that is associated with Ferrari, Lamborghini or a more mass-market Ford logo. Nevertheless, it has succeeded in accomplishing its intended purpose of communicating the complex message in a simple way.
Old Toyota emblem(s)
Toyota started out as a looming machine manufacturer by Sakichi Toyoda. It wasn’t until 1930’s that the company dabbled into automobiles under the guidance of Kiichiro Toyoda. The first logo the company was quite simple. Written in the Romaji script (Roman letters), the name was placed in a diamond like shape in blue background.
Considering the times, it was quite progressive for Kiichiro Toyoda to write the company name in Roman letters instead of the native Kanji script. This Toyota insignia was used with a hood ornament that spelled Toyoda in Kanji script and consisted wings to convey speed.
Given that the logo wasn’t exactly exciting, Toyoda thought of changing it for good and organized a design contest. The old logo was short-lived one and in 1936, the company chose one entry out of 27,000 design submissions to represent it. The second Toyota emblem was the company name written in Katakana script and placed in a circle. The Katakana letters make “to”, “yo”, and “ta”. As one can see, the company name was also changed from “Toyoda” to “Toyota”.
In reality, the winning entry used two extra strokes to spell the correct name but it was subsequently changed in a conscious move. There are several theories as to why the name was changed and some are:
- Sounds more international
- Easy to pronounce in foreign languages
- Reflects the company’s move from a family enterprise to a professional, global one
However, these are unsubstantiated stories, although none entirely wrong in logic. The official reason behind restricting the number of strokes to eight is that it is “good luck”. However, there is more to it. The graphic representation of the number eight in Kanji, called “hachi” indicates further growth. Another meaning of Toyota symbol is the homage it pays to Nagoya, the city where Kiichiro was born and the automaker is based. Seen this way, the last character in Toyota emblem was a homage to the city.