The Secrets Behind the Toyota Symbol

Posted Monday, Nov 07, 2016 by nhtwpprod

The Toyota symbol is one of the most distinctive symbols in history. It’s been seen on the front of millions and millions of vehicles for decades, as well as in ads on TV, in newspapers, and on websites. It’s safe to say that nearly everyone in the world can recognize that symbol and say where it comes from, but what, exactly, does the Toyota symbol mean?

Some corporate logos are self-explanatory. Others are less so, their meaning more symbolic than literal. Others still are the product of generations of tweaking, redesigning, and rebranding, until a once-clear design becomes something else entirely. Which one is the Toyota logo? Read on to discover the secret history of one of the world’s most distinctive brand logos.


1936 – Kiichiro Toyoda

Toyota hasn’t always used the distinctive oval symbol that today adorns all its vehicles. As ubiquitous as it may be today, the current logo was only introduced in 1989, nearly 50 years after the company’s founding.

In 1937, a Japanese entrepreneur by the name of Kiichiro Toyoda decided to transform his father’s company, Toyoda Loom Works, into an automobile manufacturer. For the new car company’s logo, Kiichiro created a logo that would be placed on every vehicle it produced: his family name, Toyoda, written in Japanese characters, colored red and embedded in a diamond-shaped figure.

From these humble origins, Kiichiro’s new car company would grow to become the Toyota Motor Company, one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world. For nearly five decades, the logo he designed would be seen on the cars Toyota manufactured and sold inside Japan. It was only in 1989, when Toyota was expanding into foreign markets (particularly North America) that the decision was made to abandon the original logo for one that would represent the company as a truly international entity.


1989 – A New, Global Brand

Once Toyota executives decided to rebrand the company with a new, international-friendly image, they had to decide on a new logo that would speak to consumers around the world. What they came up with just in time for the company’s 50th anniversary was something unique and distinct, but well in line with the company’s existing image and Japanese cultural traditions.

First, the logo contains two overlapping ellipses, representing the hearts of the two groups that make up the Toyota family (the company and its customers) linked in mutual respect and understanding. The oval that encircles these two ellipses also has symbolic meaning – it represents the world embracing Toyota as it leaves behind its roots as a domestic Japanese manufacturer and becomes a truly global company.

In a throwback to Kiichiro’s original design, these design elements inside the larger oval also form the letter “T,” the first name of the company’s name written in Western letters replacing the traditional Japanese characters of the preceding logo. Though this was meant to give the company a more international image, the logo also paid tribute to Japanese culture by being rendered with brushstrokes meant to evoke the ancient art of calligraphy, a distinctively Asian stamp on an otherwise international symbol.

Want to find out more about Toyota? Contact your Los Angeles Toyota dealer, North Hollywood Toyota, today at 800-800-6730.