How Does A Timeless Logo Design Survive The Nazis, A World War, and A World That’s Constantly Changing?


How does a timeless logo design survive the Nazis, a World War, and a world that’s constantly changing?

In the 1960s, the Volkswagen Beetle became famous thanks to the Disney film, “The Love Bug.” During the same decade of love, the Volkswagen T1 bus became a symbol of peace, non-violence, and resistance.


It’s hard to believe Adolf Hitler is associated with either of these now famous timeless cultural icons.

Adolf Hitler clapping

They’re decades and ideas apart, but Volkswagen, or “The People’s Car,” was the brainchild of the Nazi party. Yeah, sorry to spoil the Herbie series for you.

But in my defence, your image of the “Love Bug,” should have been ruined by the Lindsay Lohan reboot.

Lindsay Lohan

Through the years, Volkswagen has changed (thank goodness!), but the “V” and the “W” on their logo remains.

It’s a testament to the designers that a logo can survive a World War and the Cold War to be one of the most recognizable logos in the history of the automobile industry.

But how did they do it? For the answer, we need to go back to the original design.

Volkswagen Logo

A Brief History of the timeless logo design: Umm… you see it too right?

No, it’s not just you. The first iteration of the Volkswagen logo looked like a stylized version of the Nazi flag.

Volkswagen logo with a German Nazi flag

Try to focus on the centre. The circular shape and the “V” and “W” should look familiar too.

Before the start of the second World War, Volkswagen redesigned their logo. They removed the fan-like structure and opted for a more industrial “cog” appearance.

In 1949, Volkswagen removed the cog altogether for a much cleaner look.

Volkswagen injected the logo with colour in the 60s and 70s to create a friendlier image for the brand. And to further distance itself from its, shall we say, infamous origin.

timeless logo design

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Through the years of war, peace, and revolution, the logo’s key characteristics have stayed the same:

Superb Lettering – The designers impeccably constructed the “V” and the “W.” The two letters interact wonderfully together. Along with the perfect circle that surrounds the letters, the logo embodies one of the car company’s core values: precise German engineering.

Simplicity – Let’s remember the purpose of Volkswagen. It was meant to be “a car for the people.” You see this underlying idea of simplicity throughout their car designs and in their logo.

Legibility & Use of Negative Space – The use of negative space is as much a part of the logo as the letters and the circle. It allows for maximum legibility and clarity.

Volkswagen’s gone through some tough times recently. Like, some very hard and brand-damaging times.

But it’s hard to imagine they’ll move away from the logo that’s made them so recognizable for nearly 80 years. (Don’t quote us on that)

It’s not like you can create a timeless logo design like Volkswagen.

But there are logo design professionals, like us, who devote themselves to learning about what makes logos like Volkswagen’s so memorable.

With history’s lessons on hand, we might be able to create a logo that’s uniquely yours that can also stand the test of time.