If you’ve ever looked for a quality car at an affordable price, you’ve probably spent some time on a Honda lot. One of the most popular mid-priced brands in the world, it’s one of the many success stories out of post-War Japan. Like most automobile companies, Honda has made its logo a major part of its image. Through the creation of a recognizable badge, every Honda on the road has become an advertisement for its manufacturer. By taking a look at the Honda logo, one can take note of the changes both in how the company saw itself and how it fared in the public consciousness.
Honda Logo Design Elements
When it comes to car badges, the Honda logo is fairly simple. There’s no coat of arms, no clever mascot, not even a full usage of the company’s name. Instead, you just get a simple letter inside a circle. It’s this level of simplicity that works in favor of the company, though, as anything that looks even remotely like the Honda ‘H’ immediately evokes a reaction in the mind of the consumer.
To be fair, the font used for the single letter is actually very clever. It’s an ‘H’ to be sure, but very stylized. You’re not going to see the letter in that particular style anywhere else on the market. There’s no color scheme here, save for the silver that adorns most car badges. Again, it’s a point where simplicity really is the message – Honda’s cars aren’t necessarily luxury vehicles, but they’re easily identifiable and low-key enough that they don’t have to try to be impressive.
Changes and Evolution
Honda started life as a motor company in Japan, and you can definitely see the early influence as a parts maker rather than as a car maker. The first logos are ovals that look great on a store shelf, but wouldn’t work so well on a car. By 1953 you get a dual-wing design that certainly looks more like a car emblem, even if the company wouldn’t start manufacturing cars for another decade. By the time Honda got into the business of making their own automobiles, they adopted a single-wing design that would stay in place until 1988. This design was very much in line with other car manufacturers of the time – particularly American and European manufacturers with whom the company would compete.
Color’s always been a bit odd in the Honda logo. The 1948 and 1947 logos, used almost entirely in Japan, were blue and yellow and actually quite colorful. Color would be dropped in 1953, leaving the logo completely silver and doing away with anything else until the 1973 gold logo. The biggest departure would be the red-white-and-blue logo of 1985, which certainly showed that the company was making a major push into the United States. This was brief, though, as the company would move to red and then silver by 1988.
There have been a number of English font changes for Honda. The 1947 logo looks handwritten, while the 1948 logo is definitely a product of a post-war American presence. The Honda name is dropped entirely for the letters HM from 1968-1973, a time during which Japanese cars and electronics didn’t have a great reputation. The name would come back in 1973 and stay until 1988, reperesenting a company that had a far better public reputation. When the name was dropped, it was because the company was now so confident in its market presence that the simple ‘H’ would be enough.
The earliest Honda logos were definitely influenced by international competitors. The wing logo falls in line with everything from Jaguar to Chevy, and served the company well. The new logo is definitely more modern and in-line with newer car brands, but it was more of an influencer than a company influenced.
In fact, Honda had a major influence on many brands. The Hyundai logo, Toyota logo, and several others probably owe a debt to the simple Honda logo. It’s a great piece of design work that was naturally copied by other companies.
- Honda was founded by Soichiro Honda.
- Honda’s first automobile was a light truck.
- The company made the world’s first 98cc motorcycle engine.
- The first Honda product to be exported to the United States was a scooter.
Honda’s changing logo is a great example of how a logo changes due to consumer understanding of a company. The company hid its heritage and looked international for many years, until such a time when being Japanese was trendy. By the time the modern day rolled around, it was enough to simply be Honda – the company had accomplished its goals. All it took, it seems, was a simple letter.