Today, Mazda's wing logo can be found on some of the most beautiful vehicles on the planet. 2020 marks the 100th year Mazda has been around doing business. The Mazda Motor Corporation that we know today started life very differently; with a different company name in a different industry. And needless to say, even their logo was different.
1920 — The Cork Company
Jujiro Matsuda founded the Toyo Cork Kogyo in 1920 after a successful engineering career in Osaka and changed its name to Toyo Kogyo in 1927 when the business moved into machinery manufacturing. At this time, the company wore red circle with horizontal red lines as its logo. As described by its founder, the symbol represents "Toyo Kogyo's desire to contribute the world through engineering and the determination to constantly strive forwards".
1934 — Mazda's First Appearance
When production of three-wheels trucks began, the company needed a new name to signify its new business. The brand name we know today was derived from Ahura Mazda, the god of harmony, intelligence and wisdom. Mazda also sounds similar to the founder's family name, Matsuda, which eased the transition. The logo was a simple stylised version of the Mazda name and was displayed on the Mazda Go's side tanks. This stuck until 1954.
1936 — Inspired By Hiroshima
Mazda also sported a new logo from 1936. The new logo gets inspiration from Hiroshima City's three waved lines on a green background symbol. Mazda's new emblem straightened the wavy lines and added peaks to form the letter 'M' in each line. The three Ms stood for Mazda Motor Corporation, which the line extensions symbolises wings for agility, speed and the ability to soar to new heights.
1949 — A Symbol For Export
As Mazda began to export the Mazda Go overseas from 1949, Mazda needed another brand mark. They revisited the 1934 calligraphy-styled Mazda signature and updated for the times. This simple logo was first regifted in Taiwan in 1954 and trademarked in 21 countries by 1959.
1960 — Mazda's First Passenger Vehicle
Mazda launched the R360 in 1960 and with it debuted the company's new logo. The new emblem featured a circle with an 'M' in the middle. The letter M has its ends elongated to touch the circle's rim. This logo also had an alternative for the rotary engine, debuting with the Cosmo prototype in 1964 and the Cosmo Sport in 1967. The logo stayed on till 1975, making it one of Mazda's most recognisable emblems.
The 1970s — New Brand Mark
Mazda's move away from the stylised logo and return to the typeface reflected the trend in the 70s and 80s. The new logo is a simple block logotype with a focused central 'Z'. The badge was found on iconic cars of the time, including the RX-7, 323 and 626. Mazda continues to use this logotype, albeit various alterations.
1991 — The Mazda Diamond
Eventually, Mazda returned to sporting a symbol on the nose of its vehicles. In 1991, Mazda debuted a diamond-like shape nestled inside a circle. The logo was designed to mimic wings and sun on a circle of light. So not to look too similar to Renault's own, Mazda rounded the diamond's edges a year after its debut.
1997 — New Wings
The logo that we know today was first unveiled in 1997. The new emblem features V-shaped wings to stand for growth and improvement. In combination with the outer circle, the wings form the letter 'M', a letter that Mazda incorporates with many of their logos. This logo is used with the Mazda logotype introduced in the 70s and coloured in Mazda's corporate blue. The logo saw its first revision in 2015 with updates in colours but not the design.
In total, Mazda has gone through eight logos in its 100 years of existence. And that's plenty. Will Mazda continue to change its emblem eight times in the next 100 years, or just stick to one? As the cliche goes; only time will tell.