Take a look at the visual identities of some of the best automobile brands around the world, and you will notice that they tell you so much about their roots. BMW’s logo, for example, resembles a spinning airplane propeller. The BMW logo lets you know about its days as an aircraft builder.
But what does the Volvo logo symbolize? Well, it does look like the male gender symbol,a circle with an arrow affixed at the top right. Why would an automobile manufacturer choose such a symbol as its visual identity? We will reveal the connection between the automobile giant and the symbol it uses, plus we will explore the different logos that the automaker used over the decades.
Volvo: A Brief History
Established in 1927, Volvo is currently headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden. Founded by Assar Gabrielsson and Gustav Larson, the company is known for manufacturing and distributing buses, trucks, and construction equipment.
Initially, Assar and Gustav intended to build tough cars that could resist Sweden’s cold climate and rugged roads. In 1927, the company launched its first car, the Volvo ÖV 4. Next year, the company launched its first truck, the “Series 1.” The trucks became extremely successful, and demand for the same rose quickly across Europe.
What does “Volvo” mean?
The founders wanted the name of the company to be remembered, pronounced, and written with ease. Their search for an easy name ended with the Latin word “Volvere.” When translated, the word’s English equivalent is “to roll.” The first person verb of the same becomes “Volvo,” meaning “I roll.” The name fitted very well with the company since it symbolized movement and also suggested a personal connection.
Volvo Logo: Meaning
It‘s now time for me to reveal if the Volvo logo symbolizes the male gender or something completely different! Here it is: the Volvo logo does not symbolize the masculine gender! Yes, the symbol represents the male gender, but it is not why Volvo used it. Now, with that myth out of the way, we can concentrate on what it actually means.
Please scroll up, yes a bit more, in the “brief history” segment, please. Right there, the line that says, “Assar and Gustav intended to build tough cars that could resist Sweden’s cold climate and rugged roads.” Why the back-story? Well, the word I want you to focus on is “tough.” The founders always intended their automobiles to be tough and hard-built for any road.
The ancient chemical symbol for iron is what we today know as the masculine gender icon. Iron is one of the toughest elements, the symbol of which is used as the Volvo logo!
The symbol is also related to Mars: the ancient god of war. The god of war is known for wielding weapons made of iron. According to historians, the symbol represents the ancient god’s sword and shield.
Known as the “Iron Mark,’ the Volvo logo symbolizes strength, power, durability, and safety. The auto giant’s name in the middle of the symbol portrays the “rolling strength” of Volvo.
The Volvo logo has been updated nine times, with the last one to be seen sometime in 2023. Let us take a look at how the Volvo logo has evolved over the years.
Evolution of Volvo Logo
1927 – 1930
Volvo’s first logo featured a blue oval, which was outlined using a golden-brown color palette. Volvo’s name was placed in the middle of the oval with the tagline “Gothenburg Sweden” beneath it. The logo portrayed a sense of protection and professionalism. The simple typeface, along with the color palette, looked perfect for the automobile giant.
1930 – 1959
The 1930 redesign was a complete overhaul as the automobile giant introduced its “Iron Mark” logo. However, the Iron Mark was completely different from what it is today. The symbol consisted of a circle, which had an arrow on the top right, along with a horizontal line cutting through the circle. The horizontal line cut itself into three parallel lines symbolizing speed.
1959 – 2020
Volvo used two logos from 1959 up until 2020, the first of which was a wordmark in blue. The minimalistic design featured a neat typeface which made the wordmark appear clean. The emblem portrayed professionalism, trust, and security. The wordmark was simple yet created a strong identity because of the dynamism it provided.
1959 – 1999
The primary logo during this period was the Iron Mark emblem; however, the design appeared more balanced than its 1930 counterpart. The red wordmark, along with horizontal lines, was replaced with a rectangle with curved edges. The Iron Mlost some of its thickness, making the entire logo design well-balanced.
1999 – 2013
The 1999 redesign gave the Iron Mark a 3D look. The silver Iron Mark featured a blue nameplate in the middle with Volvo written in white. The logo symbolized sophistication, grace, elegance, trust, security, and purity. The sleek and modern design was attractive, simple, and memorable—important design elements.
2013 – 2014
Volvo partially redesigned its logo in 2013. The logo was a lighter version of the earlier one, only glossier. The nameplate got silver framing which made the entire design appear sleek. While the version of the logo remained with Volvo for only a year, this was among the best emblems the automakers adopted.
2014 – Present
Volvo currently uses two logos, the first of which is the Iron Mark emblem. While the logo continues to use silver, white, and blue color schemes, the overall tone of the colors has been dramatically reduced. The glossy texture and silver framing of the rectangular nameplate has been removed. The present primary Volvo logo is clean and well-balanced.
2020 – Present
The second logo currently in use is a black and white wordmark. The black lettering against a white background makes the emblem appear sophisticated. The thin serif typeface looks confident and strong. The letters have a good deal of space between them, which adds a sense of elegance to the logo design.
Volvo recently unveiled its new logo, which is expected to make its debut in 2023. The Iron Mark gets a flat avatar in the 2023 version. Social media users were divided on their opinion about Volvo’s new look.
Volvo Logo: Color Palette
Auto giant Volvo has used four color schemes in its history: blue, silver, black, and white. In its early days, the auto giant also experimented with colors such as red and golden-brown.
The logo currently in use features blue and silver color schemes. The blue in the logo portrays reliability and excellence, whereas silver depicts creativity and elegance.
Volvo Logo: Font
“The Volvo typography has both a functional and an aesthetic side. It creates impact, ensuring text is legible and easy to read, and at the same time it creates a distinct character that is easy to recognize.” Volvo mainly uses two typefaces, namely Volvo Novum and Volvo Broad.
A logo is considered to be relevant when it accurately conveys the brand’s personality to the relevant markets. There are many design elements a designer applies to achieve relevance. These design elements include colors, shapes, fonts, and symbols. A designer with years of practice and hard work knows how shapes and colors can be combined to trigger specific emotions in the audience. For example, rounded shapes portray security, whereas sharp lines and edges symbolize power and presence.
The Volvo Iron Mark is one of the most powerful logos in the world; however, the use of rounded edges gives the logo a more approachable look. The design elements are relevant and well-balanced.
Apart from being relevant, a logo should strive to be simple. It’s often the simple designs that make the most powerful impact. Some of the most iconic logos in the world are also some of the simplest. Think about the Mercedes-Benz or the Nike logos; they are as simple as can be!
The Volvo logo is a great example of a simple design creating maximum impact.
Logos that remain effective and relevant over the years are considered to be timeless. While it is tempting to use the latest design trends, it may not always work in your favor. Logos that are relevant and communicate your brand’s message in the most effective way possible are best suited for your brands.
The Iron Mark is timeless because of its simplicity and relevance.
A logo aims to create a connection between your customers and your brand with ease; therefore, you must ensure that your logo is simple and easy to remember. A logo is considered to be of great value when it is easy to remember and creates a powerful impact at the same time.
The Volvo Iron Mark never fails to amaze its audience because of its simplicity yet powerful presence.
The Volvo logo is a great example of how traditional symbols can be used in a completely different light. No other sign could have better represented the auto giant than the old chemical symbol of iron. The Iron Mark is truly among the best logos in the world today.
Businesses accross the world have consulted DesignBro to build their brand with logo, website, packaging design and much more.
We can help you too!
Head of Design at DesignBro and is responsible for UI/UX Design, managing the global designer community, and ensuring quality levels of both designers and designs remain high.