The story behind Audi’s four-circle logo

The tale of the four equally-sized interlocking circles logo of Audi is a compelling piece of history.


An interesting explanation…

In Germany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, folklore about an anonymous baker in Munich suddenly became the main designer for most car companies. At first, he took a cake, divided it evenly into three parts, and sent it to Mercedes to make a logo. Another cake was divided equally into four parts for BMW. When it was Volkswagen’s turn, the baker was confused and randomly drew a few lines, forming two V letters. Although not very satisfied, Volkswagen still took it.

Story of Audi's 4-circle logo autodaily-logo-audi-(2).jpg4 equal circles symbolize the 4 companies that founded Audi

When it was the turn of the four Audi owners to come and ask the baker to design a logo for them, he was really bewildered. He had no idea what to do on the small cake anymore. But while serving the guests, when the fourth cake was placed on the plate, he had an idea: take 4 cakes representing the 4 companies that founded Audi. And to avoid disappointing anyone among the classy guests, he arranged them horizontally, although it took up more space. When the plate with the idea of the company’s logo was placed on the table, the 4 owners looked at each other and… smiled.

This is just a story that car enthusiasts came up with to explain the serendipitous encounter in the logo design of German car brands, including Audi.

… To mark the formation

Car enthusiasts came up with a story about the 4 cakes of the baker, although it is a fun explanation, it also has its basis. In reality, the 4 circles in the Audi logo are the combination of the car brands AUDI, DKW, WANDERER, and HORCH.

Story of Audi's 4-circle logo autodaily-logo-audi-(3).jpgLogo history of Audi

Audi is an automobile manufacturer founded by August Horch, a German, in 1899. August Horch is one of the pioneers in the early days of the development of the German automotive industry. He worked at the Carl Benz factory (manufacturer of Mercedes-Benz cars) and quickly became the director of the engine manufacturing department. Because of his talent and strong personality, he had disagreements with the management board and left the Carl Benz factory… to establish his own brand with the company name Horch & Cie, established in 1899 in Cologne.

The first Horch car was produced in 1901 in Zwickau. In 1910, Horch was expelled from the company he himself had founded. Then, he started a new company and continued to produce cars under the Horch brand. The old company sued him for trademark infringement and a German court ruled that the Horch trademark belong to the old company. August Horch had to stop using his family name for the cars produced by the new company. Because the word “horch” in German means “listen,” August Horch chose a Latin word with the same meaning to name his new company, Audi. Many people believe that Audi is an abbreviation for “Auto Union Deutschland Ingolstadt.”

Story of Audi's 4-circle logo autodaily-logo-audi-(4).jpgIn 1932, Audi merged with Horch, DKW, and Wanderer to form Auto Union

In 1932, Audi merged with Horch, DKW, and Wanderer to form Auto Union. At that time, Auto Union AG was the second-largest company in the world. Also in 1932, Auto Union introduced the symbol of 4 circles nested inside each other as a representation of the 4 companies. All the circles are of equal size, placed horizontally, symbolizing unity and mutual respect.

Over 80 years of history for the logo

After World War II, Auto Union’s factories were located in the territory of East Germany. Most of the company’s leaders moved to Bavaria, where BMW was based. Here, they founded Auto Union GmbH (Auto Union Co., Ltd.) in 1949. Auto Union GmbH continued to produce cars as part of tradition, and the intertwined 4 circles remained the official logo of the company.

Story of Audi's 4-circle logo autodaily-logo-audi-(5).jpgAuto Union GmbH is still a close combination of 4 companies

In 1969, Auto Union GmbH merged with NSU to form Audi NSU Auto Union AG (Audi NSU Auto Union Corporation). Because this name was too long and inconvenient for business and brand promotion, in 1985, the company changed its name to Audi AG (Audi Corporation). Although a 5th company was added to form the Audi “today,” in terms of brand value, the company still uses the 4-circle logo, which has been familiar to consumers for 53 years at that time.

Quite a few people, when they first see the Audi logo, think of the symbol of the Olympic Games. The 5 circles on the Olympic flag were introduced in 1914 by Count Pierre de Coubertin, the first president of the International Olympic Committee, and became the symbol of the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium, symbolizing the 5 continents standing side by side in the Olympic movement.

Story of Audi's 4-circle logo autodaily-logo-audi-(1).jpgUp to now, Audi’s 4 concentric circles have been over 80 years old

Up to now, Audi’s 4 concentric circles have been over 80 years old and the brand has also existed for nearly 100 years. It is very likely that the logo designer for Audi was influenced by the meaning and artistic form from the Olympic symbol. Throughout its history, going through ups and downs, Audi is still one of the leading luxury car brands thanks to its high-quality products that are not mixed up with any competitors.

Thu Ha (TTTD)