With millions of Toyota cars on roads today, you’ve probably seen the brand’s famous symbol several times a day. The Toyota logo is a permanent fixture on roads, car magazines and ads that feature the Toyota Motor Corporation. Everyone sees the Toyota symbol, but does everyone know the meaning behind the three-circle logo?
Like any of the car companies in the industry, Toyota’s emblem has an interesting story behind it.
What Does the Toyota Logo Mean?
Compared to the other car logos on the market, like the Mazda logo or the Ferrari logo, the Toyota logo is a simple one.
At first glance, the emblem looks like a stylized version of the letter “T” placed in the middle of an oval. There are, however, three ovals combined in the middle to create Toyota’s image. Each oval has its own symbol. For example, the largest oval encircling the two smaller ovals represents the endless possibilities offered by the company. One of the smaller ovals represents the heart of Toyota’s brand while the other oval represents the heart of the client.
Toyota’s use of the color red is also meaningful. The color is often associated with strength, power and passion — all important factors in the car industry.
A Brief History of Toyota
Before we dive deeper into the evolution of the Toyota emblem, it pays to understand the story behind the brand.
Sakichi Toyoda created Toyota in the 1860s. Originally, he called his company Toyoda as a reference to his surname. The brand created looms that were soon motorized and automated, which led to the company’s great growth. Eventually, Toyoda opened two more factories, with one of the factories being seven times larger than the original.
After exporting their cars internationally, the founder’s son, Kiichiro, took over the company. He seized the opportunity to become a competitive player in the automobile industry. During that time, only General Motors, Ford and other foreign brands reigned supreme in Japan’s car market. World War II gave Toyota the experience it needed to manufacture vehicles and trucks for the Japanese army.
After the war, Toyoda experienced financial difficulties, which they eventually overcame. Today, Toyota is one of the biggest brands in the automotive industry known for selling the best cars on the market.
What Was the Original Toyota Logo?
When Sakichi Toyoda decided to start manufacturing cars, he knew the company needed a logo. Toyota’s first symbol was a badge-type logo that resembled a diamond. The first Toyota logo represented simplicity and reliability. As for the company’s name, it was displayed in a sans-serif font. Toyoda did not use a Japanese script for their first logo; instead, they used uppercase Roman letters.
As mentioned above, foreign car companies had already been established in Japan when Toyota started manufacturing cars. In a display of Japanese culture, the Japanese car company stood out by using a color combination of red and black, which are colors associated with the country. At the same time, red represented energy and passion while black represented elegance and class.
The Evolution of the Toyota Logo
Soon after the creation of the first Toyota emblem, the company decided to change its name and brand image, with the latter being a recurring practice over the years.
The company released the Japanese version of the first Toyota logo. The new logo replaced the diamond-shaped background with a red circle. White marks were added in the middle of the circle. This was the word Toyota, which introduced the new name of the brand.
Toyota’s change of symbol influenced international markets since the company started using wordmarks that were similar to the font Times New Roman. The serif font represented sophistication and elegance.
The Toyota wordmark changed again. This time, the emblem switched from the traditional sans-serif design to a typeface similar to Hypersans Heavy. The image was more modern and had a closer kerning.
By 1978, Toyota had yet another logo change. This time, the automobile company embraced its white and bright red colors again. The wordmark is similar to the one that represents the company today. It was accompanied by the iconic Toyota symbol.
The font is similar to the typeface that came before it, but with greater spacing and a reduced height.
Toyota decided that it was time to update its logo beyond the wordmark. By 1989, the company introduced the first version of its iconic oval symbol. The symbol featured a large, horizontal oval with two ovals overlapping in the middle.
In some marketing and branding campaigns, the new Toyota logo appeared beside the company’s wordmark. Originally, the company chose a shade of red that was darker and deeper compared to the shade we know today.
Nearly 20 years later, Toyota changed its logo to feature a silver and chrome version of the oval logo. This is the emblem many people saw in their cars. In the 2006 version of the Toyota logo, the oval symbols are easier to recognize.
The car company slightly updated its image again to refine the contours of its iconic oval symbol. Toyota often displays its oval logo on its own today, either in black on a white background or in white on a red background.
Tips from Toyota’s Logo Creation and Evolution
Toyota’s changing logo can teach businesses a thing or two about creating their own emblems. First, whether it was their original logo or their latest, the company was always inspired by their country when it came to creating their logo. Even today, red is a color associated with Japan, and Toyota remains loyal to its country by using red in its logo.
If you want to create a unique logo, copying your competitors should never be an option. This is what Toyota did to set itself apart from the American car brands. Also, the brand got creative with shapes when it came to creating its logo. Circles are often associated with brands in the car industry. By combining them, Toyota managed to create a logo that everyone knows.
Finally, don’t hesitate to redesign your logo if needed. Logo redesigns can help you break into newer markets, simplify a busy logo or introduce new products.
The bottom line: Toyota is a brand that managed to adapt to the changes over the years. Whether by creating different logos or changing their name, their ambitious branding choices made the company the name it is today.