The roots of the Mercedes-Benz logo stretch back deep into history, to the days of the very first automobiles. Inspiration for the Mercedes logo goes back to 1872, decades before the first modern car that we think of today had been manufactured.
The Mercedes and Benz companies first developed independently in the late 1800’s. The high-speed engine invented in the 1880’s paved the way for development of the automobile, resulting in two German engineers separately developing their own versions of the automobile.
Karl Benz founded Benz & Cie., in October 1883, and is credited as the inventor of the first gasoline powered car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, in 1886. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Benz at the time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) and began development on their own engine-powered automobile. As the turn of the century came about, and throughout the early 1900’s, the two designers were competitors. It would not be until 1926 that they would merge together.
In the meantime, the two companies worked on developing their brands and making names for themselves. Over at DMG, Daimler had made a deal with Austrian businessman Emil Jellinek, who had bought his first Daimler car in 1897 and couldn’t stop buying them. Jellinek pressured Daimler to produce faster, more powerful vehicles, and started racing with DMG vehicles in 1899 under the pseudonym “Mercedes”, the name of his eldest daughter.
In 1900, DMG agreed to use the name Mercedes as a product name. The first Mercedes, developed by Maybach, had a low center of gravity, pressed-steel frame, and a lightweight, high performance engine, and would become what we regard today as the first modern automobile. With its 35hp, the highly superior car was soon found to be the best, and helped publicize Jellinek and Mercedes.
In 1902, Mercedes was legally registered as a trade name. But what about the star?
When Daimler first started working at the Deutz gas engine factory in 1872, marked a star on a photograph of his house and told his wife that the star would shine over his factory and would symbolize prosperity. Daimler passed away in 1900, but his sons remembered their father’s use of the star, and so in 1909, both a three-pointed and four-pointed star were registered as trademarks, although the four-pointed star was never used. The three points symbolize ambition of universal motorization “on land, on water, and in the air”.
Over time, the logo would change. In 1916, a circle surrounded the tips and four smaller stars were added inside the circle. Then, in 1923, a three-dimensional three pointed star enclosed in a circle was registered as a trademark.
Then, three years later, DMG and Benz & Cie. were forced to merge. Post-WWI, inflation caused trouble for many car sellers, and many companies were forced to close or merge. The two companies, which had previously competed against each other, first formed a syndicate in 1924, and in 1926 they finally merged to become Daimler-Benz AG. They combined their logo to reflect this merger, with the laurel wreath of the Benz logo added to the three-pointed star. The silver color traces its origins back to 1934, when a Mercedes-Benz car exceeded the 750kg maximum, so officials polished off the white paint, leaving behind the raw silver metal.
Through the years, the Mercedes-Benz brand and logo would become synonymous with quality and durability. Mecrcedes-Benz is the oldest car manufacturer still in existence.