Volvo is easily the most prominent car manufacturer from Sweden at the moment. They have been around for almost 100 years now, and they were the first company out of Northern Europe to become an international producer. They’ve changed their logo many times over the years, too.
Meaning and History
Volvo has been launched in 1927, and the name was actually a choice of occasion. The mother company, SKF, initially created the trademark for the type of ball bearings, hence the name – it means ‘I roll’ in Latin.
The familiar logo depicting the symbol of Mars wasn’t introduced until way later. It’s designed to depict the quality of Swedish metals, namely iron (the sign of Mars has long been associated with iron).
1927 – 1930
For the first three years, the logo was pretty modest. It was a dark blue oval surrounded by the orange line. Inside, there was a big company name and an image of a ribbon beneath. Both were white and likewise surrounded by orange. The name was styled as a big serif word with thick, bold letters.
And beneath, on the ribbon, you could find a more everyday type of writing – a little orange text that said ‘Gothenburg Sweden’. It’s where the company was created.
1930 – 2021
For almost a century, the brand used just its name along with the other logos. This was possible thanks to a minimalistic look and the use of classic black. They also used a now familiar slab serif font with relatively closely spaced letters. The typeface resembles Clarendon Wide SC Bold.
1930 – 1959
However, the company’s first big hits were made under a different logo. This was less dull and depicted instead a familiar great sign of the god Mars – a light grey circle with an arrow sticking from the top right of it.
Right through the middle of it went a type of tilted quadrangle with three smaller identical shapes coming out of the left end of it that meant to look like tails. Doubtless, this construct was designed to inspire speed and quality engineering.
The most important detail was a name of the company. The look and the font were pretty much the same, but now it was dark red and was sat on the quadrangle proper, on the general right side of the logo.
1959 – 1970
The logo had a 2D effect. It retained the original symbolism. There was a company name made in white font on a blue background. In general, the entire logo design was made in blue.
1959 – 1970 (writing)
After 1959, there were two types of Volvo logo. One was meant for the front of the cars – it depicted the same circle with an arrow on it. The other was used on the official documentation and other property of the company (ads, labels, and so on). This was the second type.
It was pretty much the word ‘Volvo’ as on the previous version. Here, however, it had a nice blue color. This logotype was used throughout the remainder of the 20th century, and only changed recently.
1965 – 1970
The logo was made on a gray shield. It was the same circle with an arrow and the brand name. Only the color of the drawing was black.
1970 – 2020
In 1970, the brand introduced a blue version of its 1930 logo with just the name. The blue color has always been associated with stability, trust, loyalty, and responsibility. These are the values any buyer is looking for in a company. After all, one wants to feel secure and confident that the automobile performs, looks, and feels like it is marketed.
1970 – 1999
Since 1959, the logo itself was moved closer to the modern look. They got rid of the tails, and the rectangle itself was moved to the actual centre of the picture. The shape was straightened out, the angles were rounded, and the Volvo name now sat directly in the middle of it. The style of the letters wasn’t changed.
But the most noticeable change is the color palette. There were now only two colors: blue and white. The borders of all the shapes and images, as well as the text, were blue. The rest was white, including the Mars image and the shape in the middle.
1999 – 2013
From 1999 on, the design started to change rapidly. First, the design was made highly realistic, as was the fashion of the time. The circle was now more like a ring. It had a silvery metallic color and different lighting in different parts. The shape was interesting – the ring had an interior surface and the exterior.
The exterior sort of tilted outwards, while the inside leaned inwards, making a peculiar ^ form. The arrow remains perfectly smooth, as does the rectangle shape, which now replaced its rounded angles with the normal ones and switched the colors – the text was not white, and the background was blue.
2013 – 2014
For about a year, Volvo changed the metallic parts of their logo to look like glass. The other changes were minor: the rectangle element now had dark grey borders, and the arrow became slightly shorter, but that’s about it.
2014 – 2021
In 2014, the logo has got its final look, for now. The company returned to favoring the metallic-looking parts in their images, as well as reduced the amount of space the rectangle and the name occupied.
Now they are not on the top of the logo, but rather inside of it. The shape is confined on the left and right by the ring. As a result, this component is smaller in comparison, as is the text on it. The colors didn’t change, and the style of the text, surprisingly still, hasn’t changed at all since its debut in 1930.
Finally, the ring itself has become lighter in color in contrast to the pre-2013 version. It’s also noticeably thinner now. In the end, it’s better this way – the logo seems a lot less complex now, and a lot more elegant.
2020 – now (writing)
In 2020, the design of the word was changed. The letters are now more widely spaced out. The color is different too, now it is pitch black. Because of these changes, this logo now seems thin and long.
2021 – now
Since 2021, the logo no longer has a three-dimensional appearance; it has retained its original symbolism. The logo is executed in black and white.
Volvo has developed a lot of good vehicles, most notably different passenger cars and trucks. There were a number of sturdy and reliable models, like S60, S80, C30, and so on. However, the best candidate for the title of the Volvo car is probably no other than Volvo 200.
These were produced over the course of 70s, 80s and the beginning of the 90s. The end amount of these models produced was almost 3 million, all due to their durability and quality. They were sold all over the world, and became the symbol of Swedish quality engineering.
The Concept Cars
Volvo has probably as many concept cars as the normal products. Many of them had negligible or slight differences, like the 2011-2013 C30, which was a concept electric car. Volvo SCC was built for better driver protection, hence the warning collision and blind spot alerts (and many more measures).
The concept cars from recent 10 years were simply milestones in the Volvo’s attempts to find new style for their cars – modern and robust. They were just experiments with design, the tech from which was used in the full-fledged cars.
Probably two of the most interesting concepts by Volvo were the Volvo ECC and Volvo T6. The former is the ‘environmental car’, made from recycled material and hybrid technology.
It was used to inspire future cars, but ECC itself didn’t go very far. And T6 was just an experiment to see if Volvo can create a hotrod in 2005. Well, they succeeded. That’s pretty much it about T6.
Volvo Race Cars
Volvo wasn’t ever really interesting in creating race cars. However, twice they created the versions of their cars fit for racing. In the 80s, Volvo has won a few medium-rate races across Europe, in Australia and New Zealand with their 240 model. 240 is basically Volvo 200, but faster and lighter.
Another attempt was made in the latest two decades, when they decided to repurpose their S60 to run on race treks. Since then, S60 can be seen on numerous motorsport events, like the World Touring Car Championship, the Sweden Touring Car Championship, and others.
They weren’t too successful, but they were surprisingly successful given their past as largely family passenger cars.