BMW is an automotive brand manufacturer and conglomerate founded in 1916 by Camillo Castiglioni, Franz Josef Popp, Gustav Otto, Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto.
BMW is headquartered in Munich and produces motor vehicles in Germany, Brazil, China, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The Quandt family is a long-term shareholder of the company (with the remaining shares owned by public float), following brothers Herbert and Harald Quandt’s investments in 1959 which saved the company from bankruptcy.
The name BMW is an abbreviation for Bayerische Motoren Werke (translates into English as Bavarian Motor Works).The suffix AG, short for Aktiengesellschaft, signifies an incorporated entity which is owned by shareholders, thus akin to “Inc.” (US) or PLC, “Public Limited Company” (UK).
The circular blue and white BMW logo or roundel evolved from the circular Rapp Motorenwerke company logo, which featured a black ring bearing the company name surrounding the company logo on a plinth a horse’s head couped.
BMW retained Rapp’s black ring inscribed with the company name, but adopted as the central element a circular escutcheon bearing a quasi-heraldic reference to the coat of arms (and flag) of the Free State of Bavaria (as the state of their origin was named after 1918), being the arms of the House of Wittelsbach, Dukes and Kings of Bavaria. However, as the local law regarding trademarks forbade the use of state coats of arms or other symbols of sovereignty on commercial logos, the design was sufficiently differentiated to comply, but retained the tinctures azure (blue) and argent (white).
The current iteration of the logo was introduced in removing 3D effects that had been used in renderings of the logo, and also removing the black outline encircling the rondel. The logo will be used on BMW’s branding but will not be used on vehicles.
The origin of the logo as a portrayal of the movement of an aircraft propeller, the BMW logo with the white blades seeming to cut through a blue sky, is a myth which sprang from a 1929 BMW advertisement depicting the BMW emblem overlaid on a rotating propeller, with the quarters defined by strobe-light effect, a promotion of an aircraft engine then being built by BMW under license from Pratt & Whitney.