Sanketa Kapse
Sep 4, 2015 · 7 min read



A brand is the strongest and the most vital asset for any company. However, in the pressure of generating sales, companies often forget that a brand is much more than just a tagline, a logo, a positioning statement, a slogan or an advertising campaign. A brand is those and much more. It is a promise and claim of performance and distinction. It’s who you are and how you do business.

There is so much parity in the market today making the brand and its communication more important than ever before. Times are changing and so is the audience. Sensing this, a number of brands have evolved over time. One such brand that has refocused its communication is Volkswagen.

The brand has a rich legacy. The connection it establishes is uniform across the young and old. It is classic yet cool. Its brand name means the ‘People’s Car’ in German and its brand slogan “Das Auto” means ‘The Car’ in English.


The company was founded 77 years ago on 28th May 1937 in Germany under the name, ‘Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH’. But the history of the brand can be dated back to 1933. In an auto show in Berlin, Adolf Hitler expressed the idea of an affordable car for the people. This was done to support the idea of building a super highway, ‘Autobahn’. The two ideas progressed hand in hand, the vision was to encourage leisure among Germans by offering a speedy yet affordable vehicle within the price range of 1000 Reich (around 140$)

Hitler’s personal sketch of the KDF-Wagon

One year after Adolf Hitler took charge of Germany; he invited Ferdinand Porsche, an Austrian automobile engineer to design the people’s car. As Porsche was of Austrian origin, Hitler asked him to apply for German citizenship. In response to this Porsche gave up his Czechoslovak citizenship and joined the National Socialist German worker’s Party.

The peculiar round shape of the car was inspired by a sketch made by Bela Barenyi in 1934 for a French car magazine.

Ferdinand Porsche and Adolf Hitler examining a prototype of Volkswagen Beetle

The company was established in 1937 in Walburg and which simply became ‘Volkswagenwerk GmbH’ in 1938. The initial logo comprised of the ‘Nazi’ flag designed in the shape of a swastika symbol. Furthermore this symbol also signified an ancient Nordic symbol called ‘Ginfaxi’ a binding in ancient rune that supposedly granted victory in any battles fought.

The initial ads were in sync with the mission of KDF (Kraft durch Freude), ‘strength through joy’, which showed pictures of family and friends relaxing and going for a holiday in the car. Also, the print ads show friends and families visiting forests, hill stations.

Image of a family going for a leisure trip
Image of father and son relaxing with their Beetle next to their home on a holiday

However, before world war this particular logo was modified slightly since it resembled the image of a pedestal fan.


After the world war ended, the British army took over the control of the damaged factory under the supervision of Major Ivan Hirst. It was under him that the re-establishment of the line took place in order to build and repair all the machines so that the factory could be brought back on its feet. One remarkable achievement during this period of 1945 was the unearthing of machine parts from the debris in the factory. These parts were then used to build over 2000 vehicles.

In the subsequent year, Britain further increased production to 10,000 vehicles, also going on to change the name of the company to Volkswagen. The name of the factory town was also altered to Wolfsberg, which was inspired from a local castle present in the town. It was then that they renamed the car as Beetle. During this period, the design around the circle of the logo was also done away with.

But as the war ended the British decided to hand over the reigns of the company to another experienced manufacturer. However, major car makers including Fiat and Ford refused to take ‘free control’ of Volkswagen. Finally, having left with no choice, the British decided to handover matters to the new German government in 1949.

Thus, with new zeal and vigor and with the help of the then U.S. Marshall Plan, Volkswagen became a feasible and flourishing business. The car was given a new glossy paint job and a luxurious interior. It was made available in pastel green, medium brown and bordeaux red. According to the general director of Volkswagen, Mr. Rieger, the new paint job was more than just a visual enhancement, it was symbolic of peacetime.

Improvements were made in the factory and with the introduction of new models the sales in Germany grew. This further resulted in higher exports to other European nations, enhanced production levels and recruitment of new workers.

Thus Volkswagen became a corporate powerhouse which helped Germany in its resurrection from economic uncertainty. The residents of the country also felt confident while driving the new swankier vehicles, new career opportunities became a reality resulting in improved living standards.

In the 1960s, another plant was added in Mexico as part of international expansion. Further in 1965, almost a million bugs were sold. In 1968, Disney released its Love Bug movie, and later the Herbie series, immortalizing the vehicle in screen glitz and glamor.

The archetypal Volkswagens, the Beetle and the T1 bus, became the four-wheeled symbols of the “peace and love” movement of the 1960s. From Hitler to hippies, not many other companies, automobile or otherwise, can lay claim to that sort of stranger-than-fiction corporate narrative. The brand had become truly iconic.


The logo of Volkswagen, as is seen currently, is a simple representation of the initials of the company. While “Volks” in German stands for people, “Wagen” stands for car.


Originally, the logo is said to have been designed in 1938. The logo was later modified in 1996 and then again in 2000. At the time of the last modification, aspects such as color blend and three-dimensional were introduced, to present the logo with a unique design.

The origin of the logo design has however been surrounded by controversy. While a certain group of people believe it to have been created by Franz Xaver Reimspeiss, an employee of Porsche, there are others who abide by the theory that Martin Freyer was the one who created the mark and also won a design competition consequently.

However, despite the uncertainty, the logo is largely recognized as one of the most remarkable logos to have ever been designed.

The Logo Shape:

The beauty of the logo lies in its simplicity, it contains only two letters (a V over a W), which seem to be interacting with each other. The letters are held together with a circle of the same line weight, effort has been made to include just the right amount of “air” in the spaces around the central image so as not to affect the legibility of the logo while at the same time, making the logo visually distinct.

The Logo Color:

The logo is a culmination of two colors, blue and white. The blue color represents class, excellence and reliability while the white outlines charm, nobility and purity.


Right from surviving the World War II to moving into diverse upscale sector altogether to being recognized as the people’s car, it is certain that the brand has seen a lot and come a long way holding on strongly to its distinctive brand image. It strives to continuously do so by coming up with environment friendly cars in future. Volkswagen truly resonates as one brand that constantly upgrades its brand image to suit the times and changes, making it a one-of-a-kind brand personality!

Often copied, never equaled.’ — Volkswagen








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