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BMW’s Logo Got a Makeover for the First Time in 23 Years

The logo made its debut on the hood of the Concept i4.

The new BMW logo BMW

It may have taken a couple months, but BMW is ready to ring in the new decade with a new logo.

For the first time in more than two decades, the German automaker has given its iconic roundel logo a makeover. The new logo, which made its debut alongside the Concept i4 electric sedan earlier this week, ditches the color black along with the 3-D shading of its predecessor, instead embracing a flatter, more spare aesthetic.

This marks the first time that BMW has changed in logo in more than two decades—since 1997, to be exact—and is only the sixth badge the company has used during its 103-year history. And while the differences may not look that major to the untrained eye, it’s clear that they are weighed with significance for the brand. So much so, that the automaker followed up the logo’s debut with the release of a lengthy explainer covering its meaning and history.

In the document, BMW executive Jens Thiemer revealed that the logo, which will be used across all the brand’s internal and external communication, is meant to “radiate more openness and clarity.” He went on to explain that BMW hopes its new transparent logo would “invite our customers more than ever to become part of the BMW world.”

(Another revelation: The blue and white at the center of the design do not represent an spinning airplane propeller, as has long been thought, but are instead the colors of the Bavarian state where the brand is based.)

But while the logo made its debut on the hood of the Concept i4, don’t expect it to appear on any other cars. In fact, a spokesperson for the automaker told CNN that there are “no plans” for the badge to appear on production vehicles in the near or distant future. So, when the company says the logo is for communication and branding, they appear to mean it.

The BMW Concept i4 electric sedan

The BMW Concept i4 electric sedan  BMW

In the document explaining the reasoning behind the new logo, Thiemer also revealed a new identity for the automaker, saying that, “BMW is becoming a relationship brand.” He went on to explain that the brand intends to be more open and transparent going forward in an attempt to woo a younger, digitally native audience.

So, how how have industry observers responded? So far, the media reaction has been mixed: Car and Driver “really like” the new look, while Road & Track seemed a tad skeptical.  The Verge, on the other hand, hates it, describing the transparent logo as “everything that’s wrong with modern logo design.”

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