Mazda, the maker of cars such as the RX-7, RX-8 and MX-5/Miata, turned 90 this month. So what a better time to take a trip down memory lane and see how the Japanese company’s logo and cars evolved over the past century.
The first corporate logo dates back to 1936. It was registered as a trademark when Mazda began manufacturing its first three-wheeler. The name itself is a derivative from Ahura Mazda, the god of wisdom, intelligence and harmony in early Asian cultures. It also derives from the anglicized version of the founder’s name, Jujiro Matsuda.
At the same time, Mazda introduced a brand symbol, too, inspired by the emblem of its hometown, Hiroshima. It was basically a stylized triple “M”, as in “Mazda motor manufacturer”, and the wings on both sides represented “agility, speed and the ability to soar to new heights” – always according to the automaker.
In 1959, when Mazda began making passenger cars, a new “M” logo was introduced and used for the first time on the R360 coupe. This way, Mazda tried to emphasize that it was the beginning of a new era in the company’s history.
Sixteen years later, in 1975, Mazda totally revamped its corporate identity and launched the logotype which, after three and a half decades, is still a base element of the firm's visual identity.
This was accompanied in 1992 by a new brand symbol. Mazda says that the composition expressed the “dimensions of wings, sun and a circle of light” – whatever that meant. More importantly, it provided the base for the current logo, which followed in June 1997 and, in my opinion, it’s the best one yet.
Building on the same “M” theme, it also incorporated a “V” shape, standing for “growth and improvement”, which was Mazda’s way of saying that it had entered a new era once again. In 2002, the concept was refined with the “Zoom-Zoom” tagline, as Mazda started to concentrate on a new generation of cars, delivering more driving pleasure than before.
In 2008, Mazda came up with a new global visual identity, integrating the unchanged logo into a rectangle, called “dynamic wing”, and placing the “Zoom-Zoom” tagline at an angle. This composition wants to express the “bold, distinctive nature of Mazda”.
While the logo and corporate identity had few iterations over the 90-year period, Mazda’s line-up was much diversified and saw plenty of change, highlighted in the list below. Also, check out our 185 gallery to see some of the firm's cars throughout its 90 year history.
By Csaba Daradics