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The Story and Meaning Behind Toyota’s Three Ellipses Logo

Bet you didn’t know but Toyota‘s logo wasn’t always the three ellipses design that you see today. During its early years, Toyota’s logo consisted of the word ‘TOYODA’ placed in the center of a diamond-shaped red and blue symbol.

What’s surprising is that the logo retained the original spelling of Toyota’s founder, Kiichiro Toyoda, despite the company being called Toyota since 1933. This blue-and-red diamond logo represented the Japanese car manufacturer until 1989.

As the 90s drew nearer and the brand’s 50th anniversary loomed, the folks at the company it was time to change the logo, which was starting to look dated, to say the least. The ’90s was all about sleekness and curves, and Toyota wanted this to reflect on its new symbol. Fortunately, it stumbled upon a design that not only looked perfect for that decade, but also for the years to follow. That logo that commemorated the company’s 50th anniversary is the same one you see today, the one that combines three separate ovals.

According to Toyota, it took designers five years to develop the logo, testing it along the way to ensure its acceptance in many international markets. The new logo debuted on its luxury model the Celsior, in October of 1989. Soon after, it appeared on every Toyota vehicle that left the production line.

At first glance, there may not be a much deeper meaning to attach to the logo. It’s just the first letter of the brand, a technique that many companies before and after have adopted, such as the ‘U’ of Unilever, the ‘Y’ of Yahoo, the ‘F’ of Fila, and so on.

However, there’s more to the logo than meets the eye, and toyota-global.com provides this explanation:

“The two perpendicular ovals inside the larger oval represent the heart of the customer and the heart of the company. They are overlapped to represent a mutually beneficial relationship and trust between each other. The overlapping of the two perpendicular ovals inside the outer oval symbolize ‘T’ for Toyota, as well as a steering wheel, representing the vehicle itself. The outer oval symbolizes the world embracing Toyota. Each oval is contoured with different stroke thicknesses, similar to the ‘brush’ art known in Japanese culture.”

Additionally, Toyota wanted a logo that’s instantly recognizable even from the rearview mirror–an impressive achievement in symmetry, which only adds to the deepening meaning of the messages that the logo conveys.

But perhaps most impressive of all, is how Toyota incorporated all of the letters of its name into the symbol. Take a closer look below:

Indeed, when it comes to impressive logo design, Toyota’s is right up there with the best. Even with a very minimalist look, the Japanese brand manages to cram a lot of themes and messages, effectively changing the way how logos are designed thereafter.

 

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