The Porsche emblem is as iconic as the sports car that defines the company. The rearing of a black horse on a gold background is distinctive and meaningful. But the emblem was never predestined. Several other designs were considered before Porsche chose the logo we associate with the company today.
In 1948 the company’s founders thought the only thing needed was to spell out ‘Porsche’ in clear, simple letters. However, its customers see it differently. Dr. Ottomar Domnick, one of Porsche’s original customers, launched Porsche Prizes to find the new brand logo. Max Hoffman, who was the first to import cars into America, spoke with Ferry Porsche as early as 1951 about designing the logo. However none of the designs submitted were successful.
Initially, Ferry Porsche had the idea to decorate the steering wheel with the Stuttgart emblem, but it wasn’t until 1952 that a logo was created. Franz Reimspiess, a designer and engineer who created the VW logo, is credited with the original design. Based on the coat of arms of Stuttgart, it features a rearing horse within the outline of a gold shield. The surrounding red and black state colors and stylized horns derive from the traditional Württemberg-Hohenzollern coat of arms.
The design represents Porsche’s commitment to producing cars in Zuffenhausen and unifies Porsche’s origins. With the logo, the company has something distinctive to imprint on cars as well as on advertisements and publications. However, the logo also caused problems and controversy.
First of all, color printing in the 1950s was expensive and complicated. Not all printers have machines that can produce color images, let alone graphics that are sharp enough. The Porsche emblem also loses much of its visual appeal when printed in black and white. Additionally, some found the Porsche logo to be too crowded and thought it did not provide a “compact and coherent visual effect”.
Around the same time that the new Porsche 911 was in development, there was movement to create a new logo. However, according to Ghislain Kaes, a chronicler at Porsche, the company’s internal correspondence indicates that the company believed the change was not a good idea and decided to stick with the original logo.
As Porsche celebrates its 75th anniversary with exhibits and art cars, it’s hard to imagine its cars wearing anything other than their original badges. Even when other automakers update their logos, the Porsche emblem remains unchanged as a reminder of its origins.