Few corporate logos are as recognizable and renowned as BMW’s blue and white roundel. The Planters’ top-hatted peanut guy is pretty recognizable, so too is KFC’s Colonel. But neither logo carries the same degree of respect or ganas, as Edward James Olmos would say, as the BMW logo.
If you asked an aficionado to decipher the meaning behind the BMW roundel, they’d probably tell you that it’s supposed to represent a white airplane propeller against a blue sky. Why? Because the Bayerische Motoren Werke (aka, Bavarian Motor Works (aka BMW)) started out building engines for airplanes. Thus, it’s an homage to their heritage.
Seems like a reasonable explanation, right? Wrong!
The real meaning behind the alternating blue and white colors does coincide with the company’s heritage, but not its engine-building legacy. Instead, the colors were inspired by the flag of the Free State of Bavaria, where BMW was founded. Take a look at the flag:
Now that the mystery has been solved, there’s still one lingering question: how did the rumor about airplane propellers and blue skies start? The most plausible theory is that the rumor sprang from a 1929 BMW advertisement. The ad shows a single-propeller plan mid flight, and the letters B-M-W are spelled out in the whirl of the blade. Take a look: